Water Workshop - Virtual Water

Logo Wasserwerkstatt - climate and water
Photo: BML

The latest school document from the Water Workshop series deals with a topic that is central to the sustainable use of the precious water resource, but is not so easy to grasp in our daily lives: virtual water.

4,700 litres water use

Every Austrian uses on average around 130 litres of drinking water from the tap every day - for drinking, cooking, washing, brushing teeth,... But this is only a small part of personal water use, the so-called water footprint. This is because, in addition to direct water use, we take water through the consumption of food and other goods such as clothes, machines, toys, computers, mobile phones or cars, which is needed to produce these products. The water hidden in these products, so to speak, is called virtual water.

The current Study "Virtual Water 2021 by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management (BML) and the Austrian Association for Gas and Water (ÖVGW) estimates the water footprint per person per day in Austria to be at around 4,700 litres.

Focus on global context

The sum of water used directly and indirectly is called the water footprint. It is a measure of our actual water use, which we mostly do not even notice. Depending on where and whether the water of one's own country or that of another country is used in production, one speaks of internal and external water footprint.

In Austria, one of the most water-rich countries in the world, two thirds of the total virtual water used are imported. This means that we also use large quantities of water from regions where it is not so abundant. The new school document wants to contribute to sharpening the understanding of these connections.

Identify ways to save water

Clearly designed and written in easy-to-understand language, the new school document offers a clearly structured overview of the concept of virtual water. Each chapter contains practical tasks to help students relate the new information to the world in which they live. Practical tips on how to reduce (hidden) water use are not neglected either - because the potentials in this regard are highly relevant.