Valuing water for the Environment

The environment is central to the water cycle and an integral part of all aspects of water management. All water originates in the environment and returns there with the impurities made by humans.
Florida wetlands
Creative Commons / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
Last update: March 18, 2021

The environment’s value can be expressed in terms of the role it plays in delivering benefits to people water, such as for drinking, irrigation or industrial use, dealing with extremes such as flooding, or helping to deal with pollution.

The environment–water interface can be proactively managed to address water-related challenges through ‘nature-based solutions’. 

This approach centres on the concept that natural infrastructure can function in the same way as built infrastructure, delivering important benefits to people  such as the biodiversity conservation, fisheries, recreation and tourism and reducing water-related operational cost. 
The environment should be recognized as an asset that must be maintained and managed, thinking to the multiple services it delivers; defining environmental values by monetary-based approaches would undervalue and commodify nature.

Therefore, it is crucial that environmental values include different perspectives of economic valuation, as well as other cultural and societal beliefs. 

Recovering water, nutrients, precious metals and energy from waste streams are means of delivering value added

About 380 billion m3 of water can be recovered from the annual volumes of wastewater produced. This type of water recovery is expected to reach 470 billion m3 by 2030 and 574 billion m3 by 2050. Beyond nutrient recovery and economic gains, there are critical environmental benefits, such as a reduction in eutrophication

Waste water released to the environment