Green Tips: National Imagine A Day Without Water

Green Tips | October 17, 2019

National Imagine A Day Without Water is on October 23rd. On this day, organizations across the country urge people to think about the important role water plays in their daily lives and why they should protect our water resources. Here are a few short facts about water in honor of National Imagine A Day Without Water.

Where does the water come from?

Earth is 71% covered by water, however, only less than 1% of the water can be used by people. The water we use comes from surface water and groundwater. Surface waters are oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams that are filled by rain and snow. Groundwater comes from rain and snow that seeps into the ground. Both types of water are sent to our homes after being treated by water treatment plants. Approximately, one-quarter of the people in New York get their water from groundwater sources. The remaining get their water from surface waters.

New York State has more than 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, with 70,000 miles of rivers and streams that supply drinking water to more than 20 million New Yorkers. 

Water systems and reservoirs along the Hudson and Delaware Rivers in upstate New York provide half of the state with drinking water, including New York City. The Delaware River also provides millions with drinking water as it flows downstream to Newark and Philadelphia. 

The Great Lakes serve as a major drinking water source in New York State as well, providing drinking water for more than 4 million people upstate. Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River provide water supplies for 33 out of NY’s 62 counties, mostly in Northwestern New York. 

Why is water important? 

Water plays an essential role in our lives, including drinking, bathing, washing, industrial uses, energy production, agricultural uses, and even brewing beer and wine. New Yorkers consume 1.5 billion gallons of water each day, which amounts to 79 gallons of water per capita.

Sixty-six percent of the water taken from our rivers is used for power generation; twenty-five percent of the water is used for public uses like drinking water. The rest goes towards agriculture, industry, and other uses.

How is water used? 


Water is essential for agriculture. It is mostly used for irrigation and fertilizer application. Farmers in New York State used over 39 million gallons of water per day in 2018. 

New York State is a leading agricultural state and ranks second for apple production nationwide. It typically takes 17.5 gallons of water to produce just one apple. New York State produces 30 million bushels of apples annually (125 apples per bushel), which leads to 65 billion gallons of water total each year


A reliable, high-quality water supply is also essential for dairy production – that’s why protecting our water resources is so important. Dairy farmers use water for everything from feeding cows to the manufacturing process. 

New York State is a leading producer of dairy products nationwide and is famous for cheese and yogurt. It usually takes 50 gallons of water to make just 2 slices of cheese and 35 gallons of water for just 1 cup of yogurt. Every year, farmers in New York produce 1.59 billion pounds of cheese by using  795 billion gallons of water. They also produce 692 million pounds of yogurt, which equals 45 billion gallons of water each year.

Milk is NYS’ largest agricultural commodity. According to a study by Michigan State University, it takes 4.5 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk. People in New York State consume 3.2 billion pounds of milk each year. 

It’s clear why New York’s most vital resource – water – is an integral part of one of its most vital industries – dairy.


Next time you’re having a beer, consider the important role that water plays in beermaking. Beer is another reason to make sure our waters are protected. Don’t forget to raise your glass for clean water!

New York now has approximately 418 breweries, mostly in the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes regions. People in New York State consume over 333 million gallons of beer each year. 

Beer is mostly made up of water, and water is required during every single step of the brewing process.

Beer is made up of 90%-95% water and water is used in every single step of the brewing process, even though only a small amount actually makes it into the package. It usually takes 7 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of beer. 

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