Articles | Volume 18, issue 2
Research article
03 Feb 2014
Research article |  | 03 Feb 2014

Mapping current and future European public water withdrawals and consumption

I. Vandecasteele, A. Bianchi, F. Batista e Silva, C. Lavalle, and O. Batelaan

Abstract. In Europe, public water withdrawals make up on average 30% and in some cases up to 60% of total water withdrawals. These withdrawals are becoming increasingly important with growing population density; hence there is a need to understand the spatial and temporal trends involved. Pan-European public/municipal water withdrawals and consumption were mapped for 2006 and forecasted for 2030. Population and tourism density were assumed to be the main driving factors for withdrawals. Country-level statistics on public water withdrawals were disaggregated to a combined population and tourism density map (the "user" density map) computed for 2006. The methodology was validated using actual regional withdrawal statistics from France for 2006. The total absolute error (TAE) calculated was proven to be reduced by taking into account the tourism density in addition to the population density.

In order to forecast the map to 2030 we considered a reference scenario where per capita withdrawals were kept constant in time. Although there are large variations from region to region, this resulted in a European average increase of water withdrawals of 16%. If we extrapolate the average reduction in per capita withdrawals seen between 2000 and 2008, we forecast a reduction in average total water withdrawals of 4%. Considering a scenario where all countries converge to an optimal water use efficiency, we see an average decrease of 28%.