GEOG 431
Geography of Water Resources



In Lesson 11, many of the concepts learned in prior lessons become highly relevant, especially our three principles from the course introduction:

  • Water is unevenly distributed in quantity and quality (and the reasons why).
  • Water is transient and does not respect human-imposed borders.
  • Demand for water is not evenly distributed in space and time.

In this lesson, you will learn about virtual water and compute a personal water footprint. You will also select and profile a nation likely to be affected by global climate change. You will gain an appreciation for the complexities of conserving and managing freshwater resources. Additional information on future threats on freshwater resources will provide insights on changing demands and uses of freshwater in the years to come.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • describe virtual water;
  • summarize how water usage varies by individual and by country;
  • explain the complexities of measuring the demand and use of freshwater on a global scale.

Lesson Roadmap

This lesson is one week in length. Please refer to the Calendar in Canvas for specific time frames and due dates. To finish this lesson, you must complete the activities listed below.

Lesson 11: Activities
Requirements Assignment Details Access/Directions
To Read
  • Chapter 12 - Virtual Water (p.405-422)
  • Chapter 13 - The Future of Water (p. 428-444)
  • Explore your water footprint using the Water Footprint Assessment Tool

The readings come directly from the course textbook (Holden 2020).

To Do

Assignment 11.1 - Water Footprint Report Submit a 2-3 page report summarizing the numeric results and your reaction to your personal water footprint and the water footprint of the nation you chose to investigate.

Submit your essay to the Assignment 11.1 - Water Footprint Report drop box under Lesson 11 in Canvas.


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? discussion forum located under Orientation and Resources in Canvas. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.

Credits: GEOG 431 Lesson 11 – Conservation of freshwater and future needs. Authored by Jason Pollack and Robert P. Brooks, Ph.D., Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, 2014. Material adapted from the text, references cited, and information gleaned from the websites listed.