A blue/green water-based accounting framework for assessment of water security

Dulce B.B. Rodrigues, Hoshin V. Gupta, Eduardo M. Mendiondo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


A comprehensive assessment of water security can incorporate several water-related concepts, while accounting for Blue and Green Water (BW and GW) types defined in accordance with the hydrological processes involved. Here we demonstrate how a quantitative analysis of provision probability and use of BW and GW can be conducted, so as to provide indicators of water scarcity and vulnerability at the basin level. To illustrate the approach, we use the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to model the hydrology of an agricultural basin (291 km2) within the Cantareira Water Supply System in Brazil. To provide a more comprehensive basis for decision making, we analyze the BW and GW-Footprint components against probabilistic levels (50th and 30th percentile) of freshwater availability for human activities, during a 23 year period. Several contrasting situations of BW provision are distinguished, using different hydrological-based methodologies for specifying monthly Environmental Flow Requirements (EFRs), and the risk of natural EFR violation is evaluated by use of a freshwater provision index. Our results reveal clear spatial and temporal patterns of water scarcity and vulnerability levels within the basin. Taking into account conservation targets for the basin, it appears that the more restrictive EFR methods are more appropriate than the method currently employed at the study basin. The blue/green water-based accounting framework developed here provides a useful integration of hydrologic, ecosystem and human needs information on a monthly basis, thereby improving our understanding of how and where water-related threats to human and aquatic ecosystem security can arise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7187-7205
Number of pages19
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Integration of hydrologic
  • Results reveal spatiotemporal patterns of water scarcity and vulnerability
  • The framework identifies threats to human and aquatic ecosystem water security
  • ecosystem and human information on a monthly basis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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