There will be increasing pressure to use water more efficiently. What can individual producers do? E.g. be aware of your water footprint.


Game changers - What's your water footprint?
By Kevin Hursh

By 2030, some experts predict there will be as much as a 40 per cent gap between the world's water supply and the demand, according to Charting Our Water Future, a report from the 2030 Water Resources Group. As both a steward of water and one of the largest net consumers, there's going to be a large impact on agriculture.

Obviously, more water will be needed to produce food for the growing world population, but there will be increasing pressure to use water more efficiently. Water recycling and reuse will become bigger issues.

Some food supply chains are measuring carbon footprints. How soon before retailers will want to know your water footprint?

Water footprints are a measure of direct and indirect water use. In 2011, the Water Footprint Network established a Global Water Footprint Standard.

Finland-based Raiso is the world's first food company to include an H2O label on its product packaging. The label shows water consumption from production to end product.

No one can predict the future with certainly, but it seems likely that water will become more expensive in the years ahead and that there will be more scrutiny on water use.

Some experts believe that desalinization will be a partial solution. Technology is steadily reducing the high cost of removing salt from seawater. Thousands of desalinization plants in coastal regions worldwide are running or are being built. As the cost of water rises, desalinization will become more attractive.

Canada is blessed with 20 per cent of the world's fresh water and seven per cent of the world's renewable fresh water. That should solidify our position as a key food exporter. However, there are many regions of the country with shortages, demand from competing uses continues to rise, and there are also quality concerns.

What can individual producers do? Evaluate new water-conserving technologies. Adopt practices that preserve water quality. Be aware of your water footprint.

Mark Twain is thought to have said, "Whisky is for drinking. Water is for fighting over." Even with advances in water conservation and desalinization technology, this quote is becoming ever more poignant. There are many competing uses for water and there's no substitute for it.