How a side dish creates a water crisis
September 23, 2010
When products raised in water-rich places are created with that water, then shipped to water-poor places, it creates an exchange in "virtual water." Perhaps the most obvious example, aside from the bottled-water industry, is in agriculture, where water-thirsty crops are routinely exported around the world. Corn, for instance, is a water-thirsty crop
, which is why Iowa (with a relatively abundant natural water supply and good precipitation characteristics) is a massive exporter of "virtual water" to the rest of the world. But in Peru, water supplies are reportedly being drained at a stunning rate in order to irrigate asparagus for export
to places like the UK. According to a report from a British charity
, the water use to raise asparagus in Peru is enough to threaten the drinking-water supplies for 300,000 people.
Water supplies will only become more important as a political issue in the future, both domestically and internationally. That's why we take such a great interest in ways to re-use water
last revised September 2010