Virtual water is all of the water consumption necessary for an agricultural or industrial production, or a service. In other words, this corresponds to the total quantity of water needed to produce something. The term 'virtual water' is used because the water consumed is generally not found in the finished products.
By analogy, it can be considered the hydrological equivalent of embodied energy.
Virtual water is drawn from the immediate environment (rain, groundwater, etc.) and from artificial contributions such as irrigation or water pipes. The fewer the water resources in an environment, the more significant artificial contributions can be, depending on the production method.
The concept of virtual water is used to evaluate the ecological footprint of products, services, commercial exchanges between countries, or of lifestyles.
Water is not just used to quench thirst. The production of food, products (such as this bottle) and services consume large quantities of water. This consumption is expressed in the form of virtual water because the water used is usually not present in the final products. © Muffet CC by 2.0