Water 'Footprinting' May Play Role In Energy-Water Nexus
By Sara Jerome
A practice known as "water footprinting" is being touted as an important tool for conserving not just water but also energy resources.
This measurement generally refers to "the total volume of fresh water used to produce goods and services," according to The Guardian. For example, the newspaper describes an effort by the fashion industry to delve into water footprinting.
By calculating the water footprint of 480 supplier farms in India, a test "discovered that conventional cotton cultivation has a grey water footprint (the volume of freshwater needed to dilute pollutants to keep water quality at acceptable standards) about five times larger than the organic equivalent, mainly because of the use of chemical pesticides on non-organic farms."
But the newspaper points out that "it's taken a lot of effort and time to get companies to do the equivalent for carbon emissions, and water-use assessment is some way behind, certainly in terms of take up."
Water footprinting may be critical for energy conservation because the "nexus" between water and energy sustainability is a key focus for industry, according to Bloomberg.
“The nexus of food, energy and water is the most important water issue," said Andreas Lindstrom, program manager at the Stockholm International Water Institute.
Earth Magazine reported that the the energy-water nexus has a potential upside.
"The interdependence between water and energy is called the energy-water nexus. And while the relationship can be mutually constraining, it also presents an opportunity to address both energy and water issues together, because conserving one leads to conservation of the other," the magazine said.
Zafar Adeel, director of the UN University's Institute of Water, Environment and Health in Canada, told The Guardian that water footprint labels may soon become available on everyday products.
"I wouldn't call it a pipe dream," he said. "It will take five to 10 years for it to become fairly common."
For more from Water Online about footprinting, click here.
Image credit: "Thomas Henrikson," © 2013 UN-Water Seminar - Exploring the Water-Energy Nexus, B7., used under a Creative Commons Attribution license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en