We often talked about carbon footprint but have we ever heard or talked about water footprint? Water footprint measure the amount of water required to produce all the goods and services consumed by the individual or community, a nation or all of humanity. This includes direct water use (such as for drinking and cleaning) as well as indirect use (the water required to produce goods and services). A water footprint has three components: green, blue, and grey. The green water footprint is the volume of green water (rainwater) consumed, which is particularly relevant in crop production. The blue water footprint refers to consumption of blue water resources (surface and ground water). The grey water footprint is the amount of fresh water required to assimilate pollutants to meet specific water quality standards. It is also an indicator of the degree of freshwater.

Everything we eat, sell, buy and use requires water. Even to produce clothes and growing plants and rice require a voluminous amount of water.  Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME), 2016 has reported that to produce 1kg of rice requires 2,497 litres meanwhile according to The Logical Indian, 2017 up to 11000 litres of water are used to produce a pair of jeans.

It is vital for us to be concerned of water footprint as it could help us to understand for what purposes our limited freshwater resources are being consumed and polluted. As the world population is growing, the need for fresh water is growing too. Thus, it is a must for every country to keep water footprint at low level. If we don’t take measures, soon we will be running short of fresh water. Experts predicted that

by 2030 the demand for global freshwater will exceed supply by 40 percent.

The water footprint of countries indicates how careful and responsible the people and manufacturers of a country measure in terms of using water. A nation’s water footprint can be viewed from two perspective which are production and consumption. The water footprint of production is the amount of local water resources that are used to produce goods and services within the country. This includes the water footprint of agriculture, industry and domestic water use. Meanwhile, the water footprint from the perspective of consumption is the goods and services that are consumed by the people living in a country.

In Malaysia, palm oil is related to high water consumption and effluents produced during the plantation and milling phase. Palm oil is a crop that requires large amount of water for high-yielding palm oil production. According to one of the studies done by A. Muhammad Muaz and M.H. Marlia in 2014, showed that the green, blue and grey water footprints for growing palm oil in the selected area in Pahang are 229m3/ton, 6.6m3/ton and 7m3/ton, respectively. Thus, in terms of production, Malaysia has high water footprints and mostly due to agriculture and plantation. So does with the consumption. Malaysia has high water consumption which was 209 liters per day.

Water footprint level reflects on the responsibility of a country to optimizing their water usage for every sector. Water is basic necessity, reduce water consumption for unnecessary events is strongly encouraged so that we could lower the water footprint level.

Nur Imani binti Abdullah

Forum Air Malaysia