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Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2086-2112; doi:10.3390/su7022086

Sustainability, Efficiency and Equitability of Water Consumption and Pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean

1
Twente Water Centre, Water Management Group, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
2
Department of Geodynamics, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid 28040, Spain
3
Good Stuff International, Bowil 3533, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 12 December 2014 / Revised: 6 February 2015 / Accepted: 9 February 2015 / Published: 16 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3701 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]   |  

Abstract

This paper assesses the sustainability, efficiency and equity of water use in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by means of a geographic Water Footprint Assessment (WFA). It aims to provide understanding of water use from both a production and consumption point of view. The study identifies priority basins and areas from the perspectives of blue water scarcity, water pollution and deforestation. Wheat, fodder crops and sugarcane are identified as priority products related to blue water scarcity. The domestic sector is the priority sector regarding water pollution from nitrogen. Soybean and pasture are priority products related to deforestation. We estimate that consumptive water use in crop production could be reduced by 37% and nitrogen-related water pollution by 44% if water footprints were reduced to certain specified benchmark levels. The average WF per consumer in the region is 28% larger than the global average and varies greatly, from 912 m3/year per capita in Nicaragua to 3468 m3/year in Bolivia. Ironically, the LAC region shows significant levels of undernourishment, although there is abundant water and food production in the region and substantial use of land and water for producing export crops like soybean. View Full-Text
Keywords: Latin America and the Caribbean; Water Footprint Assessment; water scarcity; water pollution Latin America and the Caribbean; Water Footprint Assessment; water scarcity; water pollution
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mekonnen, M.M.; Pahlow, M.; Aldaya, M.M.; Zarate, E.; Hoekstra, A.Y. Sustainability, Efficiency and Equitability of Water Consumption and Pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean. Sustainability 2015, 7, 2086-2112.

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