IMDEA Water Institute

Water Footprint assessment to minimize the impacts to the Water Footprint value

Posted by IMDEA Water InstituteResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Spain

Summary of the technology

Water footprint is a novel indicator of freshwater use, which quantifies the volume of water required by a product, service or activity when and where it is consumed. It includes both direct and indirect freshwater consumption. It also provides information on sustainability, by comparing the Water Footprint value with the availability and quality of water resource in situ. The final aim is to manage an improvement strategy designed to minimize the impacts related to this Water Footprint value.
The three colours of water:
• Green water. Rainwater, stored in soil as humidity, removed by plants in evapotranspiration processes. It is the main component in agrifood industries.
• Blue water. Water volume that depends on a more or less complex infrastructure for its use. Its origin may be surface or subterranean. The traditional indicators for water use have focused on this component.
• Grey water. Water volume that is required to buffer the concentration of pollutants that are spread in the environment. It depends on the quantity and quality of the spill, the essential quality of the receiving environment and the standards that are used to assess the environmental quality.
Water footprint can be assessed in multiple scopes or levels (process, product, consumer, producer, business) by considering both direct and indirect impacts over the whole life cycle.
Nowadays it is possible to achieve Water Footprint certification by implementing one of these two international standards:
• WATER FOOTPRINT NETWORK – Water footprint assessment manual
• ISO 14046 – Water footprint – Principles, requirements and guidelines

Description of the technology

IMDEA-WATER SOLUTIONS

We offer assessment of the water footprint using several methodologies, such as those proposed by the Water Footprint Network or the LCA community, to meet the requirement set forth in the forthcoming ISO 14046 “Environmental management -- Water footprint -- Principles, requirements and guidelines”. We assess and prepare our customers to achieve Water Footprint certification successfully.

We have already developed the CWU Model, a water footprint model to estimate the green, blue and grey water footprint of crops in a spatially explicit way. This model is specially designed to implement assessment in a catchment scale, whose output is easily assessed with other environmental and socioeconomic variables.

Thanks to our in-depth knowledge of the water footprint indicator, we are fully qualified to design and implement new analyses in different scopes, especially at product, business or sector level. Moreover, thanks to our multidisciplinary team and cutting-edge equipment, at IMDEA AGUA we are able to provide not only an economic feasibility and sustainability assessment, but also a response strategy to minimize the volume or negative effects associated with the water footprint previously evaluated.

IMDEA Water Institute is a member of the Water Footprint Network

IMPLEMENTATION SECTOR

  • Business in general: from multinationals to medium-sized companies as suppliers (agrifood industries, electric companies, car industry, textile industry, etc.)
  • Consultants and certification authorities specializing in Corporate Social Responsibility, Carbon Footprint and Ecological Footprint, as well as environmental certifications and similar services
  • Irrigation communities, Hydrographic Confederations

Related keywords

  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • sustainability
  • iso 14036
  • water footprint
  • freshwater consumption

About IMDEA Water Institute

Research & Technology Organization from Spain

IMDEA Water, a research Institute focused on water management issues, is directed towards optimizing public and private decision-making processes, emphasizing on the link between water, public services, the economy and institutions. The scientific program of the Institute is based on the development of strategic lines for the integrated water management: management of sustainable bodies of water, quality pollution, water treatment and reuse and economic and institutional analysis.
The institute is equipped with high-level up-to-date specialized laboratories as: water, soils, geomatic, ecotoxicology and water biology labs, and pilot plants (mesocosms, microbial electrochemical technologies, land application systems and membranes technologies) for conducting the research activities.

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