Conservation Corner

Water in our lives

Pauline Lee

The importance of fresh water in our lives is easy to overlook. The amount of fresh water a person uses is not just the total of his bottled water purchases and the amount of water indicated on his monthly water bill. It turns out fresh water intersects many parts of our living. For example, let’s first look at how much water is required to produce basic food products.

The following list shows some typical food items that we consume and the amount of fresh water that is required to produce them. The measurement of water is in liters using the metric system. One liter is slightly more than a quart.

Food Amount Liters of water required for production

Egg one 135

Potato one 25

Tomato one 13

Bread w/cheese one slice 90

Potato chips one bag 185

Hamburger one 2400

Apple one 70

Orange one 50

Milk one glass 200

Coffee one cup 140

Tea one cup 35

Orange juice one glass 170

Apple juice one glass 190

Beer one glass 75

Wine one glass 120

Isn’t it eye-opening to realize that a simple meal of a hamburger, chips and a cup of coffee requires the use of 2725 liters (720 gallons) of water? With this understanding, it makes sense why about 70 percent of the fresh water in the world is used in agriculture to produce the food and goods we need and want. Since our society wastes 40 percent of the food we buy, we can reduce water consumption if we cut this wasteful habit. You can help by buying only what you will be able to use up before the food goes bad, cooking only the amount of food you need and eating the leftovers. By doing this, you will save grocery money and contribute to water conservation.