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Special Issue "Progress in Water Footprint Assessment"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Use and Scarcity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Arjen Y. Hoekstra

Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +31-53-489-5377
Interests: water resources management; water footprint assessment; sustainable development; water-food-energy nexus
Guest Editor
Dr. Ashok K. Chapagain

Water Footprint Network
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +31 53 489 5377
Interests: water resources management; water footprint assessment; irrigation
Co-Guest Editor
Dr. Pieter R. van Oel

Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: water resources management; water footprint assessment; crop water use, uncertainties

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We invite you to submit papers showing progress in Water Footprint Assessment, the interdisciplinary field studying water resources management in relation to food and energy consumption, supply chains, and production and trade patterns. We are particularly open to papers that use the water footprint and virtual water trade concepts to address questions on water-use efficiency, water dependencies, water risk and security, environmentally sustainable water use, and fair sharing of water.

We welcome papers that apply the water footprint in integrated water resources management or river basin studies, and papers that go beyond the water footprint by considering different types of environmental footprints more comprehensively. This Special Issue will include innovative case studies focusing on specific geographic regions, products, sectors or businesses. We look for progress in, for example, the spatial resolution of assessment, the advancement in models employed, the capturing of uncertainties, the assessment of water footprint reduction strategies, and the translation of analytical results into policy implications.

Prof. Dr. Arjen Y. Hoekstra
Dr. Ashok K. Chapagain
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Water footprint assessment

  • Water productivity

  • Sustainable and equitable water allocation

  • Water security

  • Virtual water trade

  • Corporate water risk and stewardship

  • Water footprint reduction strategies

  • Water-food-energy nexus

  • Uncertainties

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Assessing the Water Footprint of Wheat and Maize in Haihe River Basin, Northern China (1956–2015)
Water 2018, 10(7), 867; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10070867
Received: 17 May 2018 / Revised: 21 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 29 June 2018
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Abstract
Assessing the water footprint (WF) of crops is key to understanding the agricultural water consumption and improving water use efficiency. This study assessed the WF of wheat and maize in the Haihe River Basin (HRB) of Northern China over the period1956–2015, including rain-fed,
[...] Read more.
Assessing the water footprint (WF) of crops is key to understanding the agricultural water consumption and improving water use efficiency. This study assessed the WF of wheat and maize in the Haihe River Basin (HRB) of Northern China over the period1956–2015, including rain-fed, sufficient, and insufficient irrigation conditions by different irrigation intensity to understand the agricultural water use status. The major findings are as follows: (1) The annual average total WF of wheat and maize production is 20.1 (52% green, 29% blue, and 19% grey) and 15.1 (73% green, 3% blue, and 24% grey) billion m3 year−1, respectively. The proportion of grey WF is much larger than the world average; (2) Wheat has larger unit WF (1580 m3 t−1) than maize (1275 m3 t−1). The unit WF of both wheat and maize shows exponentially decreasing trends, indicating that water use efficiency has been improved. The unit WF is heterogeneous in space, which is larger in Tianjin and Huanghua and smaller in the Southern HRB; (3) Rain-fed crops have the largest unit WF, followed by crops under insufficient and sufficient irrigation conditions for both wheat and maize. To improve the sustainability of water resources, the application of fertilizer must be reduced, and irrigation is an effective way to improve water use efficiency in water-abundant areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Water Footprint Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Simplified Direct Water Footprint Model to Support Urban Water Management
Water 2018, 10(5), 630; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10050630
Received: 3 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 9 May 2018 / Published: 12 May 2018
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Abstract
Water resources conservation corresponding to urban growth is an increasing challenge for European policy makers. Water footprint (WF) is one of the methods to address this challenge. The objective of this study was to develop a simplified model to assess the WF of
[...] Read more.
Water resources conservation corresponding to urban growth is an increasing challenge for European policy makers. Water footprint (WF) is one of the methods to address this challenge. The objective of this study was to develop a simplified model to assess the WF of direct domestic and non-domestic water use within an urban area and to demonstrate its effectiveness in supporting new urban water management strategies and solutions. The new model was tested on three Central European urban areas with different characteristics i.e., Wroclaw (Poland), Innsbruck (Austria), and Vicenza (Italy). Obtained WFs varied from 291 dm3/(day∙capita) in Wroclaw, 551 dm3/(day∙capita) in Vicezna to 714 dm3/(day∙capita) in Innsbruck. In addition, WF obtained with the proposed model for the city of Vicenza was compared with a more complex approach. The results proved the model to be robust in providing reasonable results using a small amount of data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Water Footprint Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Water Footprints of Vegetable Crop Wastage along the Supply Chain in Gauteng, South Africa
Water 2018, 10(5), 539; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10050539
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 7 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 24 April 2018
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Abstract
Food production in water-scarce countries like South Africa will become more challenging in the future because of the growing population and intensifying water shortages. Reducing food wastage is one way of addressing this challenge. The wastage of carrots, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli and lettuce,
[...] Read more.
Food production in water-scarce countries like South Africa will become more challenging in the future because of the growing population and intensifying water shortages. Reducing food wastage is one way of addressing this challenge. The wastage of carrots, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli and lettuce, produced on the Steenkoppies Aquifer in Gauteng, South Africa, was estimated for each step along the supply chain from the farm to the consumer. Water footprints for these vegetables were used to determine the volume of water lost indirectly as a result of this wastage. Highest percentage wastage occurs at the packhouse level, which is consistent with published literature. Some crops like lettuce have higher average wastage percentages (38%) compared to other crops like broccoli (13%) and cabbage (14%), and wastage varied between seasons. Care should therefore be taken when applying general wastage values reported for vegetables. The classification of “waste” presented a challenge, because “wasted” vegetables are often used for other beneficial purposes, including livestock feed and composting. It was estimated that blue water lost on the Steenkoppies Aquifer due to vegetable crop wastage (4 Mm3 year−1) represented 25% of the estimated blue water volume that exceeded sustainable limits (17 Mm3 year−1). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Water Footprint Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Evaluating Water Use for Agricultural Intensification in Southern Amazonia Using the Water Footprint Sustainability Assessment
Water 2018, 10(4), 349; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10040349
Received: 13 February 2018 / Revised: 16 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
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Abstract
We performed a Water Footprint Sustainability Assessment (WFSA) in the Xingu Basin of Mato Grosso (XBMT), Brazil, with the objectives of (1) tracking blue (as surface water) and green water (as soil moisture regenerated by precipitation) consumption in recent years (2000, 2014); and
[...] Read more.
We performed a Water Footprint Sustainability Assessment (WFSA) in the Xingu Basin of Mato Grosso (XBMT), Brazil, with the objectives of (1) tracking blue (as surface water) and green water (as soil moisture regenerated by precipitation) consumption in recent years (2000, 2014); and (2) evaluating agricultural intensification options for future years (2030, 2050) considering the effects of deforestation and climate change on water availability in the basin. The agricultural sector was the largest consumer of water in the basin despite there being almost no irrigation of cropland or pastures. In addition to water use by crops and pasture grass, water consumption attributed to cattle production included evaporation from roughly 9463 ha of small farm reservoirs used to provide drinking water for cattle in 2014. The WFSA showed that while blue and green water consumptive uses were within sustainable limits in 2014, deforestation, cattle confinement, and the use of irrigation to increase cropping frequency could drive water use to unsustainable levels in the future. While land management policies and practices should strive for protection of the remaining natural vegetation, increased agricultural production will require reservoir and irrigation water management to reduce the potential threat of blue water scarcity in the dry season. In addition to providing general guidance for future water allocation decisions in the basin, our study offers an interpretation of blue and green water scarcities with changes in land use and climate in a rapidly evolving agricultural frontier. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Water Footprint Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle A First Estimation of County-Based Green Water Availability and Its Implications for Agriculture and Bioenergy Production in the United States
by and
Water 2018, 10(2), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10020148
Received: 21 November 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 2 February 2018
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Abstract
Green water is vital for the terrestrial ecosystem, but water resource assessment often focuses on blue water. In this study, we estimated green water availability for major crops (i.e., corn, soybean, and wheat) and all other users (e.g., forest, grassland, and ecosystem services)
[...] Read more.
Green water is vital for the terrestrial ecosystem, but water resource assessment often focuses on blue water. In this study, we estimated green water availability for major crops (i.e., corn, soybean, and wheat) and all other users (e.g., forest, grassland, and ecosystem services) at the county level in the United States. We estimated green water resources from effective rain (ER) using three different methods: Smith, U.S. Department of Agriculture—Soil Conservation Service (USDA-SCS), and the NHD plus V2 dataset. The analysis illustrates that, if green water meets all crop water demands, the fraction of green water resources available to all other users varies significantly across regions, from the Northern Plains (0.71) to the Southeast (0.98). At the county level, this fraction varies from 0.23 to 1.0. Green water resources estimated using the three different ER methods present diverse spatiotemporal distribution patterns across regions, which could affect green water availability estimates. The water availability index for green water (WAI_R) was measured taking into account crop water demand and green water resources aggregated at the county level. Beyond these parameters, WAI_R also depends on the precipitation pattern, crop type and spatially differentiated regions. In addition, seasonal analysis indicated that WAI_R is sensitive to the temporal boundary of the analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Water Footprint Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Informing National Food and Water Security Policy through Water Footprint Assessment: the Case of Iran
Water 2017, 9(11), 831; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9110831
Received: 9 September 2017 / Revised: 19 October 2017 / Accepted: 23 October 2017 / Published: 29 October 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (11988 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Iran’s focus on food self-sufficiency has led to an emphasis on increasing water volumes available for irrigation with little attention to water use efficiency, and no attention at all to the role of consumption and trade. To better understand the development of water
[...] Read more.
Iran’s focus on food self-sufficiency has led to an emphasis on increasing water volumes available for irrigation with little attention to water use efficiency, and no attention at all to the role of consumption and trade. To better understand the development of water consumption in relation to food production, consumption, and trade, we carried out the first comprehensive water footprint assessment (WFA) for Iran, for the period 1980–2010, and estimated the water saving per province associated with interprovincial and international crop trade. Based on the AquaCrop model, we estimated the green and blue water footprint (WF) related to both the production and consumption of 26 crops, per year and on a daily basis, for 30 provinces of Iran. We find that, in the period 1980–2010, crop production increased by 175%, the total WF of crop production by 122%, and the blue WF by 20%. The national population grew by 92%, and the crop consumption per capita by 20%, resulting in a 130% increase in total food consumption and a 110% increase in the total WF of national crop consumption. In 2010, 26% of the total water consumption in the semi-arid region served the production of crops for export to other regions within Iran (mainly cereals) or abroad (mainly fruits and nuts). Iran’s interprovincial virtual water trade grew by a factor of 1.6, which was mainly due to increased interprovincial trade in cereals, nuts, and fruits. Current Iranian food and water policy could be enriched by reducing the WFs of crop production to certain benchmark levels per crop and climatic region and aligning cropping patterns to spatial differences in water availability and productivities, and by paying due attention to the increasing food consumption per capita in Iran. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Water Footprint Assessment)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Water and Land Footprints and Economic Productivity as Factors in Local Crop Choice: The Case of Silk in Malawi
Water 2017, 9(10), 802; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9100802
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 28 September 2017 / Accepted: 10 October 2017 / Published: 18 October 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1360 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In deciding what crops to grow, farmers will look at, among other things, the economically most productive use of the water and land resources that they have access to. However, optimizing water and land use at the farm level may result in total
[...] Read more.
In deciding what crops to grow, farmers will look at, among other things, the economically most productive use of the water and land resources that they have access to. However, optimizing water and land use at the farm level may result in total water and land footprints at the catchment level that are in conflict with sustainable resource use. This study explores how data on water and land footprints, and on economic water and land productivity can inform micro-level decision making of crop choice, in the macro-level context of sustainable resource use. For a proposed sericulture project in Malawi, we calculated water and land footprints of silk along its production chain, and economic water and land productivities. We compared these to current cropping practices, and addressed the implications of water consumption at the catchment scale. We found that farmers may prefer irrigated silk production over currently grown rain-fed staple crops, because its economic water and land productivity is higher than that for currently grown crops. However, because the water footprint of irrigated silk is higher, sericulture will increase the pressure on local water resources. Since water consumption in the catchment generally does not exceed the maximum sustainable footprint, sericulture is a viable alternative crop for farmers in the case study area, as long as silk production remains small-scale (~3% of the area at most) and does not depress local food markets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Water Footprint Assessment)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Applying the Water Footprint to achieve more user-oriented Payments for Hydrological Ecosystem Services
Author: Jochen Hack
Abstract: The Ecosystem Service concept has gained significant popularity in describing interactions between human and natural systems. In the context of River Basin Management, for instance, Payments for Hydrological Ecosystem Services have been developed as a policy instrument. This application of the concept, however, has a clear focus on the provisioning side of Ecosystem Services and neglects the environmental impact on the use, i.e. beneficiary side. This contribution addresses this downside through the introduction of a water footprint assessment for beneficiaries of Hydrological Ecosystem Service. The potential of complementarity to the political steering effect of the Ecosystem Service concept on the user side of the water footprint is investigated.

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