Water Footprint Calculator Methodology

Water Footprint Calculator Methodology

Our Water Footprint Calculator provides a snapshot of how a person’s daily activities and routines impact their water use. The methodology provides all of the data, sources and calculations behind the questions and average values.

The calculations used in the Water Footprint Calculator are an estimate. The value of the Water Footprint Calculator lies in its ability to help users understand how they use water and how they can use less. The research behind it points to a lack of consistent, high-quality water use data collected in this country. All results should be viewed in this context.

The calculations were based on 2016 studies and data sets where possible, to maintain consistency within the data. In some cases, data came from studies that evaluated personal water use based on individual behaviors. In other cases, national data were used to create statistical averages that allowed for calculation of individual water use.

Some of these questions do not technically fall within the guidelines for conducting a proper Water Footprint Assessment as formally developed by the Water Footprint Network. Although we try to focus the questions on water consumption, the line between withdrawal and consumption is not always clear for direct use. In addition, the pet food question was based solely on withdrawals because no consumption data is available at this time.

This post that describes the differences between withdrawals and consumption.
Water Use, Withdrawal and Consumption

Although the WFC focus area is the United States, it uses international and United States data. All data have been converted to US-standard units (gallons, pounds and feet). 

This post helps you adapt and use the WFC if you are from outside of the United States.
Using the Calculator When You’re Outside the US

Alternately, you can use the Water Footprint Network’s calculator, which is presented in multiple languages with metric units and uses international data.
Water Footprint Network: Personal calculator – extended