What is the difference between water footprint and virtual water?
The water footprint is a term that refers to the water used to make a product. In this context we can also speak about the ‘virtual water content’ of a product instead of its ‘water footprint’.
The water footprint concept, however, has a wider application. We can, for example, speak about the water footprint of a consumer by looking at the water footprints of the goods and services consumed, or about the water footprint of a producer (business, manufacturer, service provider) by looking at the water footprint of the goods and services produced. Furthermore, the water footprint concept does not simply refer only to a water volume, as in the case of the term ‘virtual water content’ of a product.
The water footprint is a multidimensional indicator, not only referring to a water volume used, but also making explicit where the water footprint is located, what source of water is used and when the water is used. The additional information is crucial in order to assess the local impacts of the water footprint of a product.