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Sustainability 2015, 7(7), 8461-8490; doi:10.3390/su7078461

Water Footprint of Cities: A Review and Suggestions for Future Research

1
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, State College, PA 16802, USA
2
Fulton School of Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
3
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 205 N. Mathews Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
4
Departamento de Ingeniería Hidráulica y Ambiental, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Santiago 7820436, Chile
5
Centro de Desarrollo Urbano Sustentable CONICYT/FONDAP/15110020, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Santiago 7820436, Chile
6
Centro Interdisciplinario de Cambio Global, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Santiago 7820436, Chile
7
Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ London, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Arjen Y. Hoekstra
Received: 28 March 2015 / Revised: 20 June 2015 / Accepted: 24 June 2015 / Published: 30 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [211 KB, uploaded 30 June 2015]   |  

Abstract

Cities are hotspots of commodity consumption, with implications for both local and systemic water resources. Water flows “virtually” into and out of cities through the extensive cross-boundary exchange of goods and services. Both virtual and real water flows are affected by water supply investments and urban planning decisions, which influence residential, commercial, and industrial development. This form of water “teleconnection” is being increasingly recognized as an important aspect of water decision-making. The role of trade and virtual water flows as an alternative to expanding a city’s “real” water supply is rarely acknowledged, with an emphasis placed instead on monotonic expansion of engineering potable water supplies. We perform a literature review of water footprint studies to evaluate the potential and importance of taking virtual flows into account in urban planning and policy. We compare and contrast current methods to assess virtual water flows. We also identify and discuss priorities for future research in urban water footprint analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: water footprint; virtual water; urban metabolism; cities; life cycle assessment; environmentally extended input–output; embedded resource accounting; water scarcity water footprint; virtual water; urban metabolism; cities; life cycle assessment; environmentally extended input–output; embedded resource accounting; water scarcity
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

Paterson, W.; Rushforth, R.; Ruddell, B.L.; Konar, M.; Ahams, I.C.; Gironás, J.; Mijic, A.; Mejia, A. Water Footprint of Cities: A Review and Suggestions for Future Research. Sustainability 2015, 7, 8461-8490.

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