Water management in integrated service systems: Accounting for water flows in urban areas

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This article focuses on studying the natural and artificial water flows of the service sector from an industrial ecology perspective. The purpose is to determine, in the area under study, the water consumption of the service sector and the most water demanding services in global and relative terms, total water consumption per year and liters per user per year (Lpu) respectively, as well as the existing and potential water flow interrelations among service facilities to reduce their water consumption. Finally we propose measures for water consumption minimization, recycling and reusability based on the results of the diagnosis. The analyzed system is Montjuïc Urban Park (Barcelona, Spain), where the economic activity is based on the service sector (about 200 service facilities and no industrial activities). In the individual study of services we found an average consumption of 75 Lpu, with a large range in the water consumption by service types (between 17 and 156 Lpu), and between facilities of the same service type (51 and 155 Lpu). These results indicate a high level and low regulation of water consumption among the service facilities. In the study of the interrelations between the services we found that a high potential for hydrological saving exists in the system (equivalent to 50% of the potable water inflow from the supply network). The results indicate a lack of ecosystemic and synergic vision in the service sector. Interrelations among water flows have to be established, by means of rainwater collection and the reuse of water flows from swimming pools and ornamental fountains. The article proposes the application of industrial ecology methods to improve water management inside Montjuïc Urban Park and, in general, within any system where the service sector is the main economic activity. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1583-1604
JournalWater Resources Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Industrial ecology
  • Service sector
  • Urban ecology
  • Urban system
  • Water flow accounting


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