In response to online comments about agricultural water use following the Jan. 24 editorial (“Boehner vs. fish and Delta farms”), rice does require a lot of water, twice as much as wheat, the next highest user. But the production of beef requires eight times as much water as rice, pork requires three times as much, eggs require twice as much and poultry requires about the same amount of water as rice. Therefore rice uses 1/8th the water as beef production.
So, you can have the greatest effect in saving water if you stop eating beef. Save the water – become a vegetarian.
Something else to consider: virtual water is the amount of embedded water used to produce agricultural and industrial goods. Agricultural products have water content, i.e., rice, wheat, beef, etc.
When these goods are traded, either interstate or exported off-shore, it is a virtual trade of water. The U.S., Australia, France and Argentina are the four largest exporters of virtual water.
The conclusion – water is a lot more complicated than just flushing the toilet less.