Articles | Volume 18, issue 5
Research article
06 May 2014
Research article |  | 06 May 2014

Decomposition analysis of water footprint changes in a water-limited river basin: a case study of the Haihe River basin, China

Y. Zhi, Z. F. Yang, and X. A. Yin

Abstract. Decomposition analysis of water footprint (WF) changes, or assessing the changes in WF and identifying the contributions of factors leading to the changes, is important to water resource management. Instead of focusing on WF from the perspective of administrative regions, we built a framework in which the input-output (IO) model, the structural decomposition analysis (SDA) model and the generating regional IO tables (GRIT) method are combined to implement decomposition analysis for WF in a river basin. This framework is illustrated in the WF in Haihe River basin (HRB) from 2002 to 2007, which is a typical water-limited river basin. It shows that the total WF in the HRB increased from 4.3 × 1010 m3 in 2002 to 5.6 × 1010 m3 in 2007, and the agriculture sector makes the dominant contribution to the increase. Both the WF of domestic products (internal) and the WF of imported products (external) increased, and the proportion of external WF rose from 29.1 to 34.4%. The technological effect was the dominant contributor to offsetting the increase of WF. However, the growth of WF caused by the economic structural effect and the scale effect was greater, so the total WF increased. This study provides insights about water challenges in the HRB and proposes possible strategies for the future, and serves as a reference for WF management and policy-making in other water-limited river basins.