Published on March 24th, 2014 | by Anna Cederlund


Every drop counts

March 22nd was World Water Day, and Au is somewhat delayed (even editors need sleep from time to time) jumping on to the bandwagon. Every year since 1993 the UN has observed World Water Day on the 22nd March to raise awareness of ongoing water issues worldwide. Many other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have followed suit, which has raised the awareness of this day with the general public. One of the challenges posed to us is to not use our taps for the whole day! You can find out more at the Facebook page for World Water Day. World Water Day is accompanied by the World Water Forum, organised by the World Water Council, every third year.

The Reign of Water

As I am sure no one has missed Issue 9 of Au, which deals with most things about water — from going down into the deep to discover drugs, or whether there are in fact four phases of water instead of the normally considered three — you should know that water lays close to our hearts and we wanted to do something to acknowledge this day. After much careful consideration we decided to measure how much water we actually use in a 24 hour period. Only four people managed to follow through (it is surprisingly difficult to measure your water wastage). The techniques used were different; some kept track on sticky notes, others downloaded an app for their phone. One person was even known to have crawled behind her toilet to figure out its flushing capacity. But enough of this now, here is the baffling result:

Average water consumption (l/day) Average yearly water consumption (m3/year)
Editor-in-Chief 91 33
Editor 1 165 60
Editor 2 215 78
Editor 3 260 95

Do you fancy doing this yourself? See if you can beat us and tweet us your results! (For full disclosure, the Editor-in-Chief has to admit to not doing the dishes, nor any laundry that day, thereby slightly skewing her results.)

So how much does an average Brit consume every year? An estimated 54 m3 water per person per year, or about 150 l per day. This can be compared to the lowest water consuming countries at around 3–5 m3 of water per person per year.

And of course, what we’ve measured is just our direct water usage. Behind everything that we buy, consume and do there is more water spend, whether you realise it or not. Look at the National Geographic water footprint calculator to calculate your average water footprint! An average Brit’s total water usage is about 1600 m3 water a year. An enormous figure compared to our direct usage.

Happy (belated) World Water Day!

And if you want to read more on World Water Day, here is the official link:

Featured image by (CC BY 3.0).

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About the Author

Anna is a PhD student in the School of Medical Sciences. She currently is busy squishing cartilage. When not looking at videos of tiny pieces of cartilage and programming MATLAB she enjoys sunny weather, tea and editing.

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