It's not enough to look at just the amount of water available in a given area when assessing local water resources, according to Growing Blue. Water managers and urban planners also need to take into consideration the impact of human activities on those resources, and thanks to a new web tool, a more accurate water footprint can be calculated.
The Water Impact Index (WIIX) Calculator, designed by Veolia Water, expands upon the current generation of volume-based water calculators by also figuring in water quality and stress factors on water resources, which should give a much clearer picture of human impact on local water resources.
"The WIIX Calculator will be helpful to anyone wanting to make a water or wastewater process or system more sustainable and efficient. This applies to both municipalities and industry. Using the calculator, decision makers can better assess the impact on local water resources and take steps to minimize that impact while potentially saving money." - Ed Pinero, chief sustainability officer of Veolia Water North America
With the WIIX Calculator, users can input their own specific facility and water resource data, including water withdrawals, the amount of water released, the chemicals used, the amount of waste produced and the energy consumed in the process, and then generate a report indicating where the most significant impacts to the water resource are or will occur. According to Growing Blue, when the results from the calculator are used in conjunction with a traditional cost analysis report, the individuals or groups responsible for decision-making can then determine which system upgrades or changes in process will have the highest return on investment and the most beneficial impact on the local water resource.
For you water nerds (that's a compliment, by the way), here's how the WIIX calculator works:
The WIIX is based on a “life cycle” approach. Each stage of an activity is evaluated, from the acquisition of preliminary materials to the disposal of waste.
For a given activity, the WIIX calculation uses the following formula:
WaterImpactIndex = Σi (Wi x Qi x WSIi)-Σj (Rj x Qj x WSIj)
- i and j correspond respectively to points of withdrawal from, and release of
water into, the environment
- Wi and Rj correspond respectively to quantities of water withdrawn from and
released into the environment (in m3)
- Qi and Qj are the factors of quality for water withdrawn and released
- WSI is an index of regional water stress – the Water Stress Index
Growing Blue states that one of the goals of the WIIX Calculator is to "foster greater collaboration and continued dialogue around water and carbon measurement", and that it is a great addition to a carbon footprint analysis, which only reveals part of the picture of the consequences of human activity on local water systems.
The WIIX Calculator can be accessed at Growing Blue.