Małgorzata Stępniewska

Research notes

Assessing the water footprint of national consumption for Poland

Małgorzata Stępniewska

Geographia Polonica (2015) vol. 88, iss. 3, pp. 503-514 | Full text

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The water footprint (WF) of national consumption is an indicator that takes into account both the direct (domestic water use) and indirect (water required to produce the products consumed) water use of consumers within a country. This study quantifies the water footprint of national consumption in Poland on national and regional levels. It tracks the consumptive use of rainwater (green WF) and ground and surface water (blue WF), and water pollution (gray WF). The total WF of national consumption in Poland in the 2006-2011 period was 53.6 Gm3/yr (72% green, 10% blue, 18% gray). The average consumer in Poland had a WF of 1,400.5 m3/yr. Agricultural goods provided the largest contribution to the WF of the average consumer (1,241.4 m3/cap/yr), followed by industrial goods (145.6 m3/cap/yr), and finally domestic water use (13.5 m3/cap/yr). The assessment of the WF has formed a new interesting field for integrated geographical studies. It provides useful data for informing consumers about the environmental impacts of their lifestyle and consumption choices. In water policy, it can also create a basis for discussing water allocation and issues related to sustainable, equitable, and efficient water use.

Keywords: consumption, virtual water, water, water footprint, Poland