Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Substituting freshwater: can ocean desalination and water recycling capacities substitute for groundwater depletion in California?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Pierre Badiuzzaman, Eoin McLaughlin, Darren McCauley

School/Research organisations

Abstract

While the sustainability of resource depletion is a longstanding environmental concern, wider attention has recently been given to growing water scarcity and groundwater depletion. This study seeks to test the substitutability assumption embedded in weak sustainability indicators using a case study of Californian water supply. The volume of groundwater depletion is used as a proxy for unsustainable water consumption, and defined by synthesising existing research estimates into low, medium and high depletion baselines. These are compared against projected water supply increases from ocean desalination and water recycling by 2035, to determine whether new, drought-proof water sources can substitute for currently unsustainable groundwater consumption. Results show that the maximum projected supply of new water, 2.47 million acre-feet per year (MAF/yr), is sufficient to meet low depletion estimates of 2.02 MAF/yr, but fails to come near the high depletion estimate of 3.44 MAF/yr. This does not necessarily indicate physical limitations of substitutability, but more so socio-economic limitations influenced by high comparative costs. By including capacities in demand-substitutability via urban water conservation, maximum predicted capacities reach 5.57 MAF/yr, indicating wide room for substitution. Based on these results, investment in social and institutional capital is an important factor to enhance demand-side substitutability of water and other natural resources, which has been somewhat neglected by the literature on the substitutability of natural resources.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume203
Issue numberPart 1
Early online date22 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • Substitutability, Weak sustainability, Water, Desalination, Water recycling, California

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Response to “Monyei, Jenkins, Serestina and Adewumi examining energy sufficiency and energy mobility in the global south through the energy justice framework”

    Todd, I., De Groot, J., Mose, T., McCauley, D. & Heffron, R. J., Sep 2019, In : Energy Policy. 132, p. 44-46 3 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  2. The Circular Economy: swings and roundabouts?

    Millar, N., McLaughlin, E. & Börger, T., Apr 2019, In : Ecological Economics. 158, p. 11-19 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Energy justice in the transition to low carbon energy systems: exploring key themes in interdisciplinary research

    McCauley, D. A., Ramasar, V., Heffron, R., Sovacool, B., Mebratu, D. & Mundaca, L., 1 Jan 2019, In : Applied Energy. 233-234, p. 916-921 6 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Balancing the energy trilemma through the Energy Justice Metric

    Heffron, R., McCauley, D. & Zarazua de Rubens, G., 1 Nov 2018, In : Applied Energy. 229, p. 1191-1201 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. The emergence of the ‘social licence to operate’ in the extractive industries?

    Heffron, R., Downes, L., Ramirez Rodriguez, O. M. & McCauley, D., 24 Oct 2018, In : Resources Policy. 59

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Water for all: towards an integrated approach to wetland conservation and flood risk reduction in a lowland catchment in Scotland

    Vinten, A., Kuhfuss, L., Shortall, O., Stockan, J., Ibiyemi, A., Pohle, I., Gabriel, M., Gunn, I. & May, L., 15 Sep 2019, In : Journal of Environmental Management. 246, p. 881-896 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Building on common ground to address biodiversity conflicts and foster collaboration in environmental management

    Lecuyer, L., White, R. M., Schmook, B. & Calmé, S., 15 Aug 2018, In : Journal of Environmental Management. 220, p. 217-226 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The construction of feelings of justice in environmental management: an empirical study of multiple biodiversity conflicts in Calakmul, Mexico

    Lecuyer, L., White, R. M., Schmook, B., Lemay, V. & Calmé, S., 1 May 2018, In : Journal of Environmental Management. 213, p. 363-373 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 250639465