New Research Shows Most Americans are Unaware of Their Daily Water Consumption

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (Oct. 21, 2021) – According to new research conducted by global research agency Opinium on behalf of American Water, Americans underestimate the amount of water they use daily by 90%. Most believe they use less than 100 gallons of water each day, when the actual number is more than 2,000 gallons on average (according to Water Footprint Network). This figure considers the water consumed by individuals directly (e.g. dishwashing or watering the lawn) and indirectly (e.g. the water required to produce food). With the majority of Americans underestimating their own personal water usage, the study also found a lack of awareness for water consumption in specific areas of their lives as well.

Ahead of the annual observance of the Value of Water’s Imagine a Day Without Water on October 21st, the survey asked a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 Americans to reflect on their daily water consumption and how much water is required to produce many common items we consume daily. The findings revealed that – regardless of gender, homeownership, or age – Americans are largely unaware of just how large their water footprint is and the variety of ways water impacts their everyday lives.

“We all know water is a vital part of our daily lives for drinking and basic hygiene, but we often don’t consider the water needed to produce the foods we eat or even the clothes we wear,” said Dr. Lauren Weinrich, Principal Scientist, Water Research & Development at American Water. “As part of our commitment to provide clean, safe, reliable drinking water for our customers, it’s important to raise public awareness of the true value of water. During this year’s Imagine a Day Without Water, we want to help educate our customers on the importance of water, but also ways they can participate in the efforts to support water efficiency and conservation.”

The study revealed Americans’ various underestimations of water consumption for products they likely use every day:

  • Almost 90 million Americans believe it takes no water at all to make a pair of jeans. In reality, a fresh pair of jeans requires around 2,600 gallons to make.
  • It takes 713 gallons of water to make a new cotton t-shirt to pair with those jeans. Americans believe it takes just 136.
  • Americans believe it takes 158 gallons of water to produce a smartphone, but the actual amount is more than 3,400.

With fall right around the corner, Americans are looking forward to enjoying the season’s special events – like gathering around the table for holiday dinners. However, most people aren’t aware of just how much water goes into producing these fall-favorites. Americans drastically underestimated the water needed to make:

  • One 16-pound holiday turkey takes 4,688 gallons vs. estimated 158 gallons
  • A pecan pie takes 1,068 gallons vs. the estimated 135 gallons; and a pumpkin pie takes 458 gallons vs. the estimated 135 gallons
  • The traditional green bean casserole – with fried onions on top! – takes 547 gallons of water to hit the holiday dinner table vs. the estimated 116 gallons

The company created an infographic to depict key findings of the study, which you can read more about here. For more information on Pennsylvania American Water and how you can reduce your water footprint, visit

Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.4 million people. For more information, visit and follow Pennsylvania American Water on Twitter and Facebook.

About American Water

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable, and reliable water services to our customers to help make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Media Contacts

Laura Martin

Director of Communications and External Affairs, Mid-Atlantic Division