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A wake-up call on water use

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But causing people to take action on this issue isn’t necessarily going to be easy. One simple “wake-up” tool is the calculator at the website of the Water Footprint Network. It asks questions about your diet and lifestyle and then churns out eye-popping “prints,” or water consumption estimates in the hundreds of gallons.

These figures include both direct use and indirect, or what’s known as “virtual water,” meaning how much H2O your Big Mac or Toyota Prius required all the way through the production chain – including growing the alfalfa that fed the cow that made the beef patty.

But calculators that return such large numbers that they convince people they’d never be able to live a comfortable lifestyle, “aren’t really helpful,’ says activist Alexandra Cousteau, who adds that she prefers to pursue projects that will “inspire and empower people.”

On June 8, the granddaughter of undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau will complete a 100-day global journey to expand awareness of the “interconnectedness of our hydrosphere.”

She and her team are chronicling critical water sites on five continents. “Expedition: Blue Planet” delves into crises such as the dwindling River Ganges in India and solutions such as a state-of-the-art Coca-Cola bottling plant in the Palestinian city of Ramallah (It’s the only multinational corporation in the West Bank.)

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