Water Science & Technology Vol 66 No 3 pp 549555 © IWA Publishing 2012 doi:10.2166/wst.2012.201
A holistic water balance of Austria – how does the quantitative proportion of urban water requirements relate to other users?
Unit of Environmental Engineering, Institute of Infrastructure, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstrasse 13, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Traditional water use statistics only include the blue water withdrawal/consumption of municipalities, industry and irrigated agriculture. When, however, green water use of the agricultural sector is included as well as the virtual water use/water footprint (WF), water use quantity statistics become very different. In common water use statistics, Austria withdraws in total about 2.5 km3 per year, only 3% of available resources (total discharge 81.4 km3 = surface and ground water). The total water consumption (0.5 km3) is less than 1% of available resources. Urban (municipal) water requirements account for 27% of total withdrawal or 33% of consumption. When agricultural green water use (cropland) is included in statistics, the fraction of municipal water requirements diminishes to 7.6% of total withdrawal and 2.5% of total consumption. If the evapotranspiration of grassland and alpine meadows is also included in agricultural green water use, this fraction decreases to 3.2% and 0.9% respectively. When the WF is assessed as base value for water use in Austria, the municipal water use represents 5.8% of this value. In this globalized world, these traditional water use statistics are no longer recommendable. Only a holistic water balance approach really represents water use statistics.
Keywords: Austria; green water; holistic; virtual water; water balance; water footprint
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