The construction of hydropower stations is not without controversy as they have a certain degree of impact on the ecological environment. Moreover, the water footprint and its cumulative effects on the environment (The relationship between the degree of hydropower development and utilization in the basin and the environment) of the development and utilization of cascade hydropower stations are incompletely understood. In this paper, we calculate the evaporated water footprint (EWF, water evaporated from reservoirs) and the product water footprint of hydropower stations (PWF, water consumption per unit of electricity production), and the blue water scarcity (BWS, the ratio of the total blue water footprint to blue water availability) based on data from 19 selected hydropower stations in the Yalong River Basin, China. Results show that: (a) the EWFs in established, ongoing, proposed, and planning phases of 19 hydropower stations are 243, 123, 59, and 42 Mm3
, respectively; (b) the PWF of 19 hydropower stations varies between 0.01 and 4.49 m3
, and the average PWF is 1.20 m3
. These values are quite small when compared with hydropower stations in other basins in the world, and the difference in PWF among different hydropower stations is mainly derived from energy efficiency factor; (c) all the BWS in the Yalong River Basin are below 100% (low blue water scarcity), in which the total blue water footprint is less than 20% of the natural flow, and environmental flow requirements are met. From the perspective of the water footprint method, the cumulative environmental effects of hydropower development and utilization in the Yalong River Basin will not affect the local environmental flow requirements.
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