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Water footprint accounting of green and blue water. Guadalquivir river (Spain) case study.

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Traditional water studies and planning focus on blue water withdrawals, considered usually as the unique variable to report the demand of the sectors of the economy. Nevertheless, the interactions of water cycle with the environment and human activity is much more diversified, and a series of complementary indicators is necessary in order to have a more detailed view and comprehension of water use.Thus, the solution aims to promote green and blue water accounting thanks to the water footprint (WF) methodology. The WF is considered as the human appropriation of hydrological  flows (Hoekstra et al., 2011). By computing only the consumptive use, the WF offers a complementary view to the classical one that considers only withdrawals, allowing a more accurate view of water consumption, its impacts and the effect of possible demand reduction measures (e.g. improved efficiency of application of irrigation water). In some situations, the WF could be a better indicator, as it stands for the actual depletion of the resources.

 

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Adopting the River Basin / Blue-Green Water approach rather than the Watercourse / Blue Water approach

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Direct beneficial use of rainfall is a substantial amount of water (green water), which if properly assessed, could significantly switch the balance of equitable utilization formulas. A proper water resources assessment is an essential step for the equitable utilization of shared water resources as it provides the opportunity for cooperation among riparian countries of a river basin to develop the untapped water resources in the basin rather than compete over already utilized water resources (blue water).

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