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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-650
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
21 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
A Spatially Detailed and Economically Complete Blue Water Footprint of the United States
Richard R. Rushforth and Benjamin L. Ruddell School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems at Northern Arizona University
Abstract. This paper quantifies and maps a spatially detailed and economically complete blue water footprint for the United States, utilizing the National Water Economy Database version 1.1 (NWED). NWED utilizes multiple mesoscale federal data resources from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to quantify water use, economic trade, and commodity flows to construct this water footprint. Results corroborate previous studies in both the magnitude of the U.S. water footprint (F) and in the observed pattern of virtual water flows. The median water footprint (FCUMed) of the U.S. is 181 966 Mm3 (FWithdrawal: 400 844 Mm3; FCUMax: 222 144 Mm3; FCUMin: 61 117 Mm3) and the median per capita water footprint (F'CUMed) of the U.S. is 589 m3 capita−1 (F'Withdrawal: 1298 m3 capita−1; F'CUMax: 720 m3 capita−1; F'CUMin: 198 m3 capita−1). The U.S. hydro-economic network is centered on cities and is dominated by the local and regional scales. Approximately (58 %) of U.S. water consumption is for the direct and indirect use by cities. Further, the water footprint of agriculture and livestock is 93 % of the total U.S. water footprint, and is dominated by irrigated agriculture in the Western U.S. The water footprint of the industrial, domestic, and power economic sectors is centered on population centers, while the water footprint of the mining sector is highly dependent on the location of mineral resources. Owing to uncertainty in consumptive use coefficients alone, the mesoscale blue water footprint uncertainty ranges from 63 % to over 99 % depending on location. Harmonized region-specific, economic sector-specific consumption coefficients are necessary to reduce water footprint uncertainties and to better understand the human economy's water use impact on the hydrosphere.

Citation: Rushforth, R. R. and Ruddell, B. L.: A Spatially Detailed and Economically Complete Blue Water Footprint of the United States, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-650, in review, 2017.
Richard R. Rushforth and Benjamin L. Ruddell
Richard R. Rushforth and Benjamin L. Ruddell
Richard R. Rushforth and Benjamin L. Ruddell

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Short summary
The National Water Economy Database is a new data resource to better understand the human economy's water use impact on the hydrosphere. NWED quantifies and maps a spatially detailed and economically complete blue water footprint for the United States utilizing several datasets U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statists.
The National Water Economy Database is a new data resource to better understand the human...
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