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Holistic life cycle assessment of water reuse in a tourist-based community

Current trends point to tourism as a growing economic sector for many communities worldwide with possible environmental implications including water use. One solution for these communities is water reuse, which not only has been shown to minimize potable water consumption but also other environmental impacts. Therefore, this study is a life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts (carbon footprint, aquatic eutrophication, metals depletion, and water footprint) of four distinct water management scenarios in the Spanish tourism-dependent city of Lloret de Mar. One scenario is a business-as-usual scenario where hotels are completely dependent of potable water, while the other three scenarios (Decentralized, Hybrid, and Centralized) integrate water reuse (through varying degrees of centralization) in all hotels located in the city. Results show that the implementation of water reuse incurs net carbon footprint, metals depletion, and water footprint impacts, while there is a net benefit associated with marine eutrophication impacts. This is mainly due to the treatment technologies used for potable water and greywater/wastewater treatment for reuse. Comparing water reuse scenarios, an increasing degree of centralization is associated with lower carbon and water footprints. Finally, the notable increase in water footprint associated with water reuse highlights the importance of indirect water usage, in this case, due to the degree of hydroelectricity in the Spanish electricity mix as well as generalized water scarcity issues within Spain.

Additional Info

  • Year: 2019
  • Authors: Santana, M.V.E., Cornejo, P.K., Rodríguez-Roda, I., Buttiglieri, G., Corominas, L.
  • Reference: Journal of Cleaner Production Volume 233, 1 October 2019, Pages 743-752

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