Average American Uses 40 Gallons of California Water a Day

Sunday, May 31, 2015
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Anyone outside California who thinks the state’s persistent drought is not their problem should think again.


In producing more than a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, California farmers use nearly 80% of all the water consumed in the state.


It is estimated that the average American consumes 40 gallons of California water a day by enjoying the Golden State’s agricultural production.


Some of the water usage is pretty startling, given how a small slice of an avocado represents 4.1 gallons of water. Three mandarins use up 42.5 gallons; 16 almonds require more than 15 gallons of water; two ounces of rice need 15.1 gallons; and 143 gallons of water go into making four glasses of milk.


Meat is responsible for the highest water use, mostly because of the amount of feed that goes into an animal before it’s ready for slaughter. It takes 86 gallons of water to produce 1.75 ounces of beef, or just slightly more than the amount of meat in a small McDonald’s hamburger.


-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Average American Consumes More Than 300 Gallons of California Water Each Week by Eating Food That Was Produced There (by Larry Buchanan, Josh Keller and Haeyoun Park, New York Times)

Water Footprint Outcomes and Policy Relevance Change with Scale Considered: Evidence from California (by Julian Fulton, Heather Cooley and Peter H. Gleick, Springer Science and Business Media) (pdf)

If You Eat Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts or Drink Milk or Wear Cotton Clothes, California’s Drought is Your Problem Too (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


wally 9 years ago
How's that fracking working out for ya? Wells that get fracked use millions of gallons of water. Such a waste of water.
bvit 9 years ago
So it seems California's answer has been to open the borders and bring millions more consumers to "help". How's that working out for you?

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