Florida is defined by water.

To the north, rivers, lakes and springs run over hills and through woods. The south is filled with wetlands, and the peninsula itself is surrounded by ocean or gulf.

Underneath the state are five major aquifers, and that groundwater supplies 90 percent of Florida’s drinking water and half its agricultural needs.

The supply has been stressed by population, development and pollution, which is why local officials try to encourage conservation.

The Tampa Bay Times has a seat in a Florida Waters Stewardship Program, a seven-week course that aims to teach residents how to do their part.

Follow along as we move in and out of the classroom and travel around the region to show you our world and what’s at stake.

Let’s start with this:

Do you think about how often you flush?

How regularly you eat meat?

How much you spend on dog or cat food?

Those were some of the questions asked at the start of the program.

And we were introduced to the water calculator, a way to measure not just what comes out of our taps but also “virtual water,” what it takes to produce food, energy and products.

My calculated footprint: 2,032 gallons per day. The U.S. average is 2,220 gallons.

Still, it’s clear that I can do better – buy less, repurpose more. Eat more veggies. Avoid nuts, which use lots of water to produce. And, tough as it is, drink one less cup of coffee per day.

How about you? Answer the water calculator question and hopefully you will get a better ideas of your water footprint. What is your water footprint?

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