The blue water footprint of the world's artificial reservoirs for hydroelectricity, irrigation, residential and industrial water supply, flood protection, fishing and recreation

Hendrik Jan Hogeboom (Corresponding Author), Luuk Knook, Arjen Y. Hoekstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
94 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

For centuries, humans have resorted to building dams to gain control over freshwater available for human consumption. Although dams and their reservoirs have made many important contributions to human development, they receive negative attention as well, because of the large amounts of water they can consume through evaporation. We estimate the blue water footprint of the world's artificial reservoirs and attribute it to the purposes hydroelectricity generation, irrigation water supply, residential and industrial water supply, flood protection, fishing and recreation, based on their economic value. We estimate that economic benefits from 2235 reservoirs included in this study amount to 265 × 109 US$ a year, with residential and industrial water supply and hydroelectricity generation as major contributors. The water footprint associated with these benefits is the sum of the water footprint of dam construction (<1% contribution) and evaporation from the reservoir's surface area, and globally adds up to 66 × 109 m3 y-1. The largest share of this water footprint (57%) is located in non-water scarce basins and only 1% in year-round scarce basins. The primary purposes of a reservoir change with increasing water scarcity, from mainly hydroelectricity generation in non-scarce basins, to residential and industrial water supply, irrigation water supply and flood control in scarcer areas.
Keywords: Water footprint; Reservoirs; Water consumption; Economic value of reservoirs; Reservoir purposes; Hydroelectricity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-294
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in water resources
Volume113
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Hydroelectricity
  • Water footprint
  • Reservoirs
  • Water consumption
  • Reservoir purposes
  • Economic value of reservoirs

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