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Eco-efficiency indicators for the water sector

Eco-efficiency includes the better use of water to create higher economic value and reduce negative environmental impacts. By working together, water producers, users and treatment plants as well as other businesses can develop innovative solutions that promote eco-efficiency and benefit everyone.
Eco-efficiency indicators for the water sector
The aim of the ECOWATER (Meso-level eco-efficiency indicators to assess technologies and their uptake in water use sectors) project was to develop easy to understand models and procedures to assess the contribution of different technological innovations to the eco-efficiency of water use systems.

Researchers used a systems approach to examine the entire value chain together with the water processes involved in the production of agricultural and industrial goods or the provision of potable water services. The consortium investigated the selection of suitable indicators for assessing eco-efficiency improvements. It also studied the integration of existing tools and assessment methods in models, and the analysis of existing structures and policies.

ECOWATER results include a validated analytical framework for assessing environmental impacts on water use systems, which was successfully tested in eight case studies. The case studies were formulated around a unifying theme, with each study focused on the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of non-efficient use of resources.

Two case studies focused on the shifts from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture and the innovations that can reduce water and energy use and increase production. A further two addressed sustainable and economically efficient water supply and wastewater management in urban areas.

The final four case studies were concerned with water use in the textile, dairy and automotive industries, and for the cogeneration of thermal energy and electricity. Particular emphasis was placed on technologies for closed-loop systems, recovery of resources and advanced treatment, and on the economic impacts on the actors involved.

Framework implementation was supported by an online platform, the ECOWATER Toolbox. The Toolbox comprises an integrated suite of online resources and tools for assessing the eco-efficiency of water use systems. It integrates detailed information on technologies for the eco-efficiency improvement of a water system and has a database with several environmental performance indicators.

ECOWATER results will help conserve natural resources and promote a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy. Through the use of the framework and eight representative case studies it will identify innovative technological solutions that will lead to resource efficiency and pollution prevention. It will also promote eco-efficiency as a key component in green growth and competitiveness in several economic sectors.

Related information


Eco-efficiency, environmental impacts, water use, agricultural, low-carbon economy
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