Energy Excursions

Texas Water Footprint

What is a Water Footprint? 

What does it mean when someone talks about their “water footprint?” According to the Water Footprint Network,1Water Footprint Network. (n.d.). What is a water footprint? Retrieved June 29, 2021, from https://waterfootprint.org/en/water-footprint/what-is-water-footprint/. by definition it is, “the amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services we use. It can be measured for a single process, such as growing rice, for a product, such as a pair of jeans, for the fuel we put in our car, or for an entire multi-national company. The water footprint can also tell us how much water is being consumed by a particular country – or globally – in a specific river basin or from an aquifer.”

To grasp an idea of how much water we use in our everyday lives you can visit the Water Footprint Calculator to determine your own footprint.

Click ‘Find Your Footprint’ and go through the series of questions. Once you’ve finished, think about your results. Are you above or below the average water footprint of 1,802 gallons per day for an American? How might the waterways and aquifers of Texas be impacted by this average water footprint? 

Texas Water Usage 

Each year, The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is responsible for conducting water usage surveys on public water systems and industrial facilities. These surveys are used to quantify the amount of water used from both surface and groundwater sources, and the categories that consume the most water. The six categories established by the TWDB include:2Texas Water Development Board. (2020, June 15). Texas Water Use Estimates 2018 Summary. Historical Water Use Estimates | Texas Water Development Board. https://www.twdb.texas.gov/waterplanning/waterusesurvey/estimates/index.asp 

  1. Irrigation 
  2. Municipal 
  3. Manufacturing 
  4. Power 
  5. Mining 
  6. Livestock 

The 2018 survey was the latest to be published by the TWDB, and the total water usage reported was roughly 14.66 million acre-feet, equivalent to 4.8 billion gallons of water (325,851 gallons/acre-foot). Approximately 54% of the water used in 2018 came from groundwater aquifers, whereas the other portion came from both surface waters and water reuse.3Texas Water Development Board. (2020, June 15). Texas Water Use Estimates 2018 Summary. Historical Water Use Estimates | Texas Water Development Board. https://www.twdb.texas.gov/waterplanning/waterusesurvey/estimates/index.asp As noted on the previous page, about three-fourths of groundwater used was for irrigation and about one third of surface water was for irrigation. With these statistics, it is no surprise that Texas aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate, such that the Ogallala Aquifer has been depleted by more than half in just seventy years.

Water Source  2018 Water Usage in Gallons 
Groundwater  2.6 × 1012
Surface Water  2.0 × 1012
Water Reuse  1.6 × 1011

Annual water consumption (2009 – 2018) in million acre-feet for the six categories defined by the TWDB4Texas Water Development Board. (2020, June 15). Texas Water Use Estimates 2018 Summary. Historical Water Use Estimates | Texas Water Development Board. https://www.twdb.texas.gov/waterplanning/waterusesurvey/estimates/index.asp

What is the best fit definition of “water footprint?” 

The amount of water used for electricity generation alone.

Incorrect. 

The amount of water an average human drinks annually.

Incorrect. 

The amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services we use.

Correct. 

According to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), in 2018, what was the state’s total water usage measured in million acre-feet? 

9.52

Incorrect. 

14.66

Correct. 

16.58

Incorrect. 

What is the largest source of Texas’ annual water consumption from 2009-2018, measured in million acre-feet (Hint: look at the graph)? 

Municipal

Incorrect. 

Irrigation

Correct. 

Power

Incorrect. 

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