The concept of water footprint was created by Arjen Hoekstra in 2002. It refers to an indicator of direct and indirect use of water by a consumer or producer. Since then, the subject gain interest and in 2008 the Water Footprint Network (WFN) was created. It brings together partners from several sectors, aiming to disseminate the concept, to improve the technique and to standardize the approach.
In 2007, WULCA (Water Use in LCA) was created, an international working group from UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. Its goal was to assemble availability and use aspects of water based on the LCA perspective. For this team, water footprint can be defined as a fraction of the impacts calculated on an LCA, the one dealing with water use and the consequences on availability for human beings and ecosystems.
The group of researchers analyzed the approach of many characterization methods in use and created the foundation for assessment models regarding water use in LCA. It was also carried out an evaluation of existing methods to compute uncertainty and to assess the impact on final results caused by the choice of different parameters. These efforts lead to the development of a consolidated method called AWARE (Available WAter REmaining), for Water Footprint (Boulay et al., 2015), with characterization factors differentiated by river basin.
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