Water Stewardship Responsibilities Extend Beyond Country Borders
Three-quarters of the water consumed in the United Kingdom – including water used in the production of food and other agricultural products – is extracted from outside of the country. However, government policies in the UK, as with many other countries, focus exclusively on preserving domestic water supplies.
Some experts argue that national water stewardship responsibilities should instead be determined by each country’s entire consumption footprint, including both domestically-produced and imported water resources. They also point out that pricing structures must be adjusted to reflect water scarcity in other regions. This kind of shift could encourage consumers to choose products with more sustainable water footprints, and could lead, overall, to a more sustainable global water supply.
This model could also be applied domestically. In Southeast England and the London metropolitan area, for example, household consumption of water is much greater than in other areas. If those areas were able to reduce their use – through changes such as installing more efficient taps and using fewer water-intensive products – pressure on the entire country’s domestic sources could be greatly reduced.
Overall, a more strategic, comprehensive approach to water management and national water footprints could have tremendous implications for the world’s future supply of water.
Spatially Explicit Analysis of Water Footprints in the UK [PDF]