OPTIMA: Optimisation   for Sustainable
Water Resources Management
   

Glossary of Water Issues

This glossary is a tentative list of the relevant terms used in and related to the Water Issues Questionnaire and the associasted documents defining the   checklist of issues.   Comments, additions and adjustments are welcome!

Authored by FEEM, edited by ESS, December 2004.
Accessibility
  Reasonable access to water depends on the socio-economic, historical and geograhpical setting; for the Mediterranean region, we define it to mean a (piped) water supply withinin the dwelling or enterprise or within its immediate surroundings.
Active involvement (Participation)
  Citizens actively engage in decision-making and policy-making. Active participation means that citizens themselves take a role in the exchange on policy-making, for instance by proposing policy-options. At the same time, the responsibility for policy formulation and final decision rests with the government. Engaging citizens in policy-making is an advanced two-way relation between government and citizens based on the principle of partnership. Examples are open working groups, laymen's panels and dialogue processes.
Agriculture
  Farming sector (NACE divisions A-B or ISIC divisions 1-5). Agriculture covers the added value from farming proper, and from forestry, hunting and fishing.
Aquaculture
  Farming by fish farming companies of plants and animals that live in water (freshwater, seawaters and brackish waters) such as fish, shellfish and algae.
Aquifer
  Any water-saturated zone in sedimentary or rock stratum, especially an underground stratum, which is significantly permeable so that it may yield sufficient quantities of water from wells or springs in order to serve as a practical source of water supply. It is capable of storing water and transmitting it to wells, springs, or surface water bodies.
Awareness (of the public)
  An information activity which aims at bringing water issues to the attention of a group of people.
Brackish water
  Water with a salt concentration between 5 and 18 ppt (dividing point from the surface water directive (75/440/EEC) Annex II).
Climate change
  Climate change refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which defines 'climate change' as: 'a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
Consultation (Participation)
  Government asks for and receives citizens' feedback on policymaking. In order to receive feedback, government defines whose views are sought on what issue during policy-making. Receiving citizens' feedback also requires government to provide information to citizens beforehand. Consultation thus creates a limited two-way relationship between government and citizens. Examples are comments on draft legislation, and public opinion surveys.
Desalination
  The removal of salts from saline water to provide freshwater. This method is becoming a more popular way of providing freshwater to populations. Seawater desalination uses two main processes: reverse osmosis and distillation processes. In particular the cost of reverse osmosis desalination has decreased substantially over the past decade, bringing it down to US$0.60 to US$1.00 per cubic meter. This still makes seawater desalination more expensive than most other sources of water supply where they are available but in arid locations close to the sea and far away from suitable surface or groundwater sources, seawater desalination is the most economical option for urban water supply.
Divestiture
  Full private ownership and responsibility under a regulatory regime.
Drought
  Indicates a temporary and prolonged status of dry weather caused by a continuous absence of rainfall. A condition of dryness due to lower than normal precipitation, resulting in reduced stream flows, reduced soil moisture and/or lowering of the potentiometric surface in wells. Drought is a slow devastating process, which starts with a reduction in rainfall (Meteorological drought) and depending on its severity, time and area extent, it may develop into an Agricultural Drought, and/or to a Hydrological drought. Agricultural drought results in loss of rainfed agricultural crops, where hydrological drought has a negative impact on irrigated agriculture and on the domestic water supply.
Efficient water use
  Using the minimum amount possible of the available resources without wasting them.
Environmental education programmes
  They range from public awareness and education activities (information about environmental issues) to training activities (learn how each individual can act in order to reduce her impact on the environment).
Environmental water use
  Use of water for mantaining ecological flows in rivers and minimum retention in wetlands.
Estuary
  A place where fresh and salt water mix, where a river enters an ocean.
Eutrophication
  Eutrophication is the term used for nutrient enrichment of a water body. This enrichment may be natural or anthropogenic. Eutrophication may be seen as a pressure on the receiving environment, causing major changes in ecosystems and jeopardising many beneficial uses of the resources. Nitrogen and/or phosphate compounds either discharged through pipes, or lost to the water environment via the atmosphere or run-off from land cause Anthropogenic eutrophication.
Fertilizers
  Any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to the soil to supply certain elements essential (e.g., mineral nitrogen and mineral phosphorus) to the growth of plants.
Flat rate tariffs
  Constant unit charge rate structure (ex: annual rates), similar to bulk rates. Flat rate tariffs are often unrelated to the precise quantities of water used (i.e., unmetered use).
Flood
  An overflow of water onto lands that are used or usable by man and not normally covered by water. Floods have two essential characteristics: The inundation of land is temporary; and the land is adjacent to and inundated by overflow from a river, stream, lake, or ocean.
Freshwater
  i) All nontidal and tidal waters generally having a salinity due to natural sources of less than or equal to 3.5 parts per thousand at near high tide. ii) Water that contains less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids; generally, more than 500 mg/L of dissolved solids is undesirable for drinking and many industrial uses.
Full cost recovery
  Full cost pricing of water acts as a powerful incentive for its conservation. All the different kinds of costs a complete definition of Full Cost Recovery could possibly contain are: I) Operation and maintenance costs; II) Capital Costs; III) Opportunity Costs; IV) Resource Costs; V) Social Costs; VI) Environmental damage costs; VII) Long Run Marginal Costs (LRMC). Using an approach of Full Cost Recovery including all these elements would mean that account is taken of the costs arising from the everyday operation of water utilities (transport, distribution, collection, treatment) (I), as well as all the costs that result from the need to raise loans for investment in infrastructure (II). The direct costs for interests as well as opportunity costs, taking into consideration the difference of return of capital investment between the investment in water affairs and the average of the economy (III). Furthermore the costs arising if water is economically scarce (IV) would be taken into account and the fact that a certain use may impose costs on other users (such as social costs) (V). In addition to these economic considerations FCR could include the fact that environmental damage costs arise if water is used (VI).
Groundwater
  (1) Water that flows or seeps downward and saturates soil or rock, supplying springs and wells. The upper surface of the saturated zone is called the water table. (2) Water stored underground in rock crevices and in the pores of geologic materials that make up the Earth's crust.
Groundwater recharge
  Inflow of water from the surface to a groundwater reservoir. Infiltration of precipitation and its movement to the water table is one form of natural recharge. Also, the volume of water added by this process.
Heavy industry
  The ensemble of mechanical, metallurgical and steel and iron industries.
Hydrological monitoring stations
  Station monitoring, as a function of time, the local flow rate or discharge (the volume of water flowing through a cross-section) in a unit of time. Discharge may be estimated by, e.g., the slope-area method, using these factors in one of the variations of the Chezy equation (the simplest of the several variations is the Manning equation which, although developed for conditions of uniform flow in open channels, may give an adequate estimate of the non-uniform flow which is usual in natural channels). More accurate values for discharge can be obtained when a permanent gauging station has been established on a stretch of a river where there is a stable relationship between stage (water level) and discharge, and this has been measured and recorded. Once this relationship is established, readings need only be taken of stage, because the discharge may then be read from a stage-discharge curve.
Improvements in lifestyle
  Improvements in the living conditions of individuals, often measured by income increase, which imply an increase of demand, consumption, waste production, etc.
Industry
  It equates to NACE divisions C-F or ISIC divisions 10-45. It includes extraction industries, those in the manufacturing sector (NACE divisions D or ISIC divisions 15-37), building sector, electricity, water and gas supplies.
Inefficient set of infrastructures
  Infrastructures are considered inefficient when they waste resources because of leakages (cfr. efficient water use), when they don't work properly, when their number, location and capacity doesn't fit the demand of water by the population and the different sectors of use.
Information (Participation)
  Government disseminates information on policy- making on its own initiative - or citizens access information upon their demand. In both cases, information flows essentially in one direction, from the government to citizens in a one-way relationship. Examples are access to public records, official gazettes, and government web sites.
Institutions
  Governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, development agencies, scientific and research communities, local authorities, universities and business which are charged with legislation, water regulation, water supply and sewerage provisions, pollution control and enforcement.
Insufficient capacity
  The storage capacity of the infrastructures doesn't fit the demand of water by the population and the different sectors of use.
Insufficient extension
  The infrastructures don't cover all the territory and the demand nodes.
Leachate
  A contaminated liquid resulting when water percolates, or trickles, through waste materials and collects components of those wastes; leaching usually occurs at landfill and may result in hazardous chemicals entering soils, surface water, or groundwater.
Light industry
  The ensemble of industries which produce small-sized and convenience goods.
Main water compartment
  It indicates that water body that is the most exploited by each sector (e.g. agriculture may use above all groundwater for irrigation purposes, industry may exploit the water of lakes and rivers - surface water, etc.).
Metering
  Metering devices and procedures charge rates in accordance with actual consumed volumes.
Minimum consumption tariff or fixed tariff
  The minimum consumption charge is the payment due for the access to the service. Fixed fees help stabilize utility income, but - depending on its level - they can impose a burden on poor, low-volume users.
Municipal solid waste
  The definition of solid waste varies according to the country, but it can be described as material, which has no further useful purpose and must be discarded. It does not have any commercial value for the producer, even if it can be reused by other activities. Solid waste is classed into the following categories: Plastics (bags, bottles); Glass items (bottles, flasks); Metal objects (tins, ...); Cloth, leather or rubber items; Other items. Municipal waste refers to waste collected by or on behalf of municipalities. It includes waste originating from households, municipal services (roadway, parks), similar waste from commerce and trade, office buildings, institutions like schools, hospitals, government buildings, and small businesses whose waste is treated in the same installations as those collected by the municipalities. The definition excludes waste from municipal sewage network and treatment, as well as municipal construction and demolition waste. Households waste generally includes domestic waste (normal and special), bulky waste and animal corpses.
Natural disasters
  Natural disasters may affect a whole country or restricted areas in its territory. Natural disasters taken into account are: storms and their direct manifestations (floods, hail, winds, tidal waves), lightning, drought, fires, ground movement (landslides, avalanches). Manifestations of the earth's internal energy (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) are excluded by the present definition.
Participation
  Participation processes take many forms, including face-to-face deliberation, problem solving, consensus building, traditional public hearings, and public comment procedures. Public participation is a powerful tool for gaining insights from many sectors of the community.
Pesticides
  Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying or repelling any insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed or any other form of pest (ex: insecticides, fungicides, herbicides).
Phosphorous and nitrogen runoff
  Phosphorus and nitrogen components carried to receiving waters, after having been picked up from land by run-off (i.e., that portion of rainfall, melted snow or irrigation water that flows across the ground's surface and is eventually returned to streams).
Polluter pays principle
  Several damages to the environment but also damages to the social system are not calculated and compensated by the responsible parties. Instead are many costs carried by the state and the social community. Partly takes a temporary or spatial transfer place, with the result that future generations or foreign countries have to pay for the damages of recent uses. This is not conform with sustainable development especially in its social dimension. The demand for a adequate assignment of costs and responsibilities is the central statement of the polluters pay principle. The polluters pay principle includes also the resource-user-pays- principle. To assure the water resource for future generations as well as a ecological habitat the polluters pay principle has to be set into practice in all its aspects.
Poor quality water
  Water which doesn't have the right chemical, physical, and biological characteristics, so that it can't be suitable for a particular purpose.
Potable water
  Water that does not contain objectionable pollution, contamination, minerals, or infective agents and is considered satisfactory for domestic consumption using conventional water treatment processes (e.g., chemical coagulation/flocculation, clarification, filtration, disinfection). The term will be often used interchangeably with drinking water. Drinking water: Water intended for human consumption. According to the drinking water Directive it shall mean: (a) all water either in its original state or after treatment, intended for drinking, cooking, food preparation or other domestic purposes, regardless of its origin and whether it is supplied from a distribution network, from a tanker, or in bottles or containers; (b) all water used in any food-production undertaking for the manufacture, processing, preservation or marketing of products or substances intended for human consumption unless the competent national authorities are satisfied that the quality of the water cannot affect the wholesomeness of the foodstuff in its finished form. (Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption.)
Preservation of natural resources
  The action of reserving, protecting or safeguarding a portion of the natural environment from unnatural disturbance. It does not imply preserving an area in its present state, for natural events and natural ecological processes are expected to continue. Preservation is part of, and not opposed to, conservation.
Privatisation
  This term was commonly used towards the end of the 1980s to describe the increase in private involvement; it generally refers to the full hand-over of assets (or divestiture) to the private sector.
Protected areas
  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines six classes of protected areas, divided in two groups: Totally protected areas which are maintained in a natural state and are forbidden to extractive uses: Natural or Scientific Reserves (I), National Parks (II), Natural Monuments (III) The partially protected areas which are arranged for particular uses such as leisure in order to ensure optimal living conditions for certain species or ecological communities: Habitat or Species Management Reserves (IV), Protected Land or Seascapes (V) and Managed Protected Natural Resource Areas (VI). Protected areas include many different areas such as: Areas designated for the abstraction of water intended for human consumption; Areas designated for the protection of economically significant aquatic species; Bodies of water designated as recreational waters, including areas designated as bathing waters under Directive 76/160/EEC; Nutrient-sensitive areas, including areas designated as vulnerable zones under Directive 91/676/EEC (Nitrates Directive); Areas designated as sensitive under Directive 91/271/EEC (Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive); Areas designated for the protection of habitats or species where the maintenance or improvement of the status of water is an important factor in their protection, including relevant Natura 2000 sites designated under Directive 92/43/EEC (habitats) and Directive 79/409/EEC (Birds).
Rainfall harvesting
  Rooftop rainwater "harvesting", produce only small total quantities of water, but it is potable water. Even in areas of low rainfall, it is possible to design low-cost systems, with cisterns scaled to families, that will provide for all drinking and cooking needs (e.g., 5-7 L/person per day) in most years. The greater problem is not designing the systems but convincing people unused to this technique that the stored water is indeed potable.
Recycled (waste)water
  Water that is used more than once before it passes back into the natural hydrologic system.
Reservoir
  A pond, lake, or basin, either natural or artificial, for the storage, regulation, and control of water.
Return flow
  1) That part of a diverted flow that is not consumptively used and returned to its original source or another body of water. 2) (Irrigation) Drainage water from irrigated farmlands that re-enters the water system to be used further downstream (i.e., irrigation water that is applied to an area and which is not consumed in evaporation or transpiration and returns to a surface stream or aquifer).
River
  A natural stream of water of considerable volume, larger than a brook or creek.
River basin
  The area of land from which all surface run- off flows through a sequence of streams, rivers and, possibly, lakes into the sea at a single river mouth, estuary or delta.( Directive 2000/60/EC of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (Water Framework Directive).)
River Basin Management Plan
  Document, at the scale of a river basin, setting out conditions of water bodies and programmes of measures required to achieve good water management. Such a plan can help establish a better water management through an appropriate level of coordination and cross-sectoral working among water institutions/authorities. As prescribed by the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, River Basin Management Plans must be produced, for each River Basin District within EU Member States. A detailed content of River Basin Management Plans is specified in Annex VII of the Water Framework Directive.
Salination
  Salination is the name given to the build up of salts in soil and groundwater. Salination affects the crops, reduces the quality of soil and limits the potential uses of groundwater. Salts from a given area are washed-out to sea by run-off and water streams, or by groundwater escaping to sea. The utilization of all water resources (i.e., stopping any release of drainage water or groundwater to the sea) leads to the development of salination problems. Salts are added to water during domestic or industrial use in the urban sector. As a consequence, sewage has more salts than supplied water. Thus, wastewater reuse may accelerate the salination process if no proper measurements are taken to avoid it. Numerous approaches can be (simultaneously) applied to avoid salination, e.g.: Reduction of salts in supplied water, Reduction of salts added during domestic and industrial use of water, Proper water resources management (release of part of the water resources to sea, first-flush release, etc.), Reduction of water losses by evaporation during water and wastewater storage, Proper irrigation systems and irrigation practices, Proper drainage systems, Desalination of water or wastewater, Soil conditioning, Crops resistant to salinity, etc. The overall salinity of water corresponds to the total number of cations and anions. It is measured by electric conductivity (EC). Causes for salinity are diverse. They can include: (i)genetic salinity due to the weathering of parent material, (ii)the rise of groundwater tables which displaces salts and brings them into the root zone thought capillary rise, (iii)the use of poor water quality groundwater by public and private tube wells.
Sedimentation
  Deposition of material of varying size, both mineral and organic, away from its site of origin by the action of water, wind, gravity or ice.
Sewer
  A system of (usually) underground pipes that collects and delivers wastewater to treatment facilities or streams.
Soil salinity
  There are two kinds of soil salinity resulting from human activities: dry land salinity (occurring on land not subject to irrigation) and irrigated-land salinity. Both occur when rising water tables dissolve natural salts in the soil and bring them to the surface.
Stakeholders/potential stakeholders
  Stakeholders are individuals and groups of individuals having vested interest in the water resources. These can be agricultural users, managers, inspectors, legislators, or others who in one way or the other benefit or are harmed by the way in which water is managed. This term will be used interchangeably with `community', `citizens' and `public'.
Surface water
  Water that is on the Earth's surface, in a stream, river, lake, or reservoir.
Sustainable development
  A new way of life and approach to social and economic activities for all societies, rich and poor, which is compatible with the preservation of the environment.   Saburo Kato. "Salzburg Seminar on Environment and Diplomacy." September 3-10, 1994.
Sustainable development, now enshrined as an objective in the Treaty of the European Union, should aim at the welfare of present and future generations both in European and worldwide in terms of economic prosperity, social justice and security, and high environmental standards and the sound management of our natural resource base.
COM(1999) 543 final, COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION   Europe's Environment: What directions for the future?   The Global Assessment of the European Community Programme of Policy and Action in relation to the environment and sustainable development,   'Towards Sustainability'
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987.   From the EU web server: http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/faqs.htm#6 : Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.   The concept of sustainable development was first used prominently in the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) and at the subsequent UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.   Sustainable Development (SD) is a sound approach to policy making as it looks at the long term and at interlinkages between different developments and policy actions.
A more extensive discussion of sustainability can be found on-line in the ESS GLOSSARY.
Treatment of (waste)water
  The notion of treatment brings together a wide range of processes (mechanical, biological and biochemical) that allow greater or lesser sanitation. Treated wastewater is water that have been treated enough to allow discharge into the environment without resulting in an impact neither on human health nor on ecosystems. Treatment of wastewater is the collection of wastewater from household, commercial, industrial or public premises and its conveyance to a location where it receives treatment sufficient to permit its discharge to the environment without adverse impact on public health and the ecosystem.
Turbidity
  Turbidity is a measure of the murkiness of water, reflecting the amount of solid particles (sediments) that are suspended in water and that cause light rays shining through the water to scatter. High turbidity reduces therefore the amount of light available to the plants and animals living in the water. It reduces the ability of plants to photosynthesise. It also makes it difficult for fish and other animals to see their prey. Turbidity is measured in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU). Turbidity should be less than 5 NTU (turbidity measurement scale) for water to support plant growth.
Urban area
  The demarcation of urban areas is usually defined by countries as part of census procedures, and is usually based on the size of localities, classification of areas as administrative centres, or classification of areas according to special criteria such as population density or type of economic activity of the residents.
Water abstraction
  Water removed from any sources, either permanently or temporarily. Mine water and drainage are included. (Eurostat/OECD Joint Questionnaire on Environmental Statistics).
Water demand or Water use (Agriculture)
  Water demand is defined as the volume of water requested by users to satisfy their needs. This is determined by the requirements of the activities and the water supply conditions. Demands are covered by water productions: withdrawals, fossil waters extraction (non-renewable productions) to which are added non-conventional water sources (reuse, desalination). Agriculture demands water for irrigation and non-irrigation purposes. Irrigation water use includes the artificial application of water on lands to promote the growth of crops and pasture, or to maintain vegetative growth in recreational lands, parks, and golf courses.
Water demand or Water use (Household sector)
  Water demand is defined as the volume of water requested by users to satisfy their needs. This is determined by the requirements of the activities and the water supply conditions. Demands are covered by water productions: withdrawals, fossil waters extraction (non-renewable productions) to which are added non-conventional water sources (reuse, desalination). Households demand water for household purposes such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes, dishes, and dogs, flushing toilets, and watering lawns and gardens. The water may be obtained from a public supply or may be self-supplied.
Water demand or Water use (Industry)
  Water demand is defined as the volume of water requested by users to satisfy their needs. This is determined by the requirements of the activities and the water supply conditions. Demands are covered by water productions: withdrawals, fossil waters extraction (non-renewable productions) to which are added non-conventional water sources (reuse, desalination). Industries demand water for processing activities, washing and cooling. Major water- using manufacturing industries include food processing, textile and apparel products, lumber, furniture and wood products, paper production, printing and publishing, chemicals, petroleum, rubber products, stone, clay, glass and concrete products, primary and fabricated metal industries, industrial and commercial equipment and electrical, electronic and measuring equipment and transportation equipment.
Water demand or Water use (Livestock)
  Water demand is defined as the volume of water requested by users to satisfy their needs. This is determined by the requirements of the activities and the water supply conditions. Demands are covered by water productions: withdrawals, fossil waters extraction (non-renewable productions) to which are added non-conventional water sources (reuse, desalination). The pasture/livestock/aquaculture sector demands water for livestock watering, lots feeding, dairy operations, fish farming, and other on-farm needs.
Water demand or Water use (Tourism)
  Water demand is defined as the volume of water requested by users to satisfy their needs. This is determined by the requirements of the activities and the water supply conditions. Demands are covered by water productions: withdrawals, fossil waters extraction (non-renewable productions) to which are added non-conventional water sources (reuse, desalination). Tourist structures demand water for supplying hotels for drinking, washing and swimming pools; recreational water bodies; irrigation of recreational spaces as gardens and golf courses.
Water pollution
  It refers to quality levels resulting from man's activities that interfere with or prevent water use or uses. Generally, the presence in water of enough harmful or objectionable material to damage the water's quality. More specifically, pollution shall be construed to mean contamination of any waters such as will create or is likely to create a nuisance or to render such waters harmful, detrimental or injurious to public health, safety or welfare, or to domestic, municipal, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational, or other legitimate uses, or to livestock, wild animals, birds, fish or other aquatic life, including but not limited to such contamination by alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of such waters, or change in temperature, taste, color or order thereof, or the discharge of any liquid, gaseous, radioactive, solid or other substances into such waters. More simply, it refers to quality levels resulting from man's activities that interfere with or prevent water use or uses.
Water quality
  A term used to describe the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose. Typical water quality parameters are, e.g.: Temperature, pH, Salinity, Turbidity, Dissolved oxygen, Total ammonia, Total phosphorus, Total nitrogen, Bacteriological parameters (mainly E Coli), heavy Metals. Most water-quality problems derive from one or more of four factors: overpumping of aquifers, runoff from agriculture, discharge of human and industrial wastewater, and loss of habitat.
Water quality monitoring stations
  Station monitoring the local water quality parameters of a river as a function of time.
Water reuse practices
  Treated wastewater can be indirectly reused when it is discharged into a watercourse, diluted and used again downstream. Direct reuse means the direct supply of treated effluent from the treatment plant to the user. It also can apply to the recharge of an aquifer.
Water rights
  The right to use water occurring in a water supply, and putting it to beneficial use.
Water risks management
  Prevention, emergency management and restoration of safe conditions. Risks generally relate to floods, droughts, and spills of (toxic) pollutants. Risks to aquifers are generally referred to as vulnerability (e.g., to excessive use of agrochemicals).
Water scarcity
  Water scarcity is a more relative concept describing the relationship between demand for water and its availability. The demands may vary considerably between different countries and different regions within a given country depending on the sectoral usage of water. A country with a high industrial demand or which depends on large scale irrigation will therefore be more likely to experience times of scarcity than a country with similar climatic conditions without such demands. As a rough estimate, water scarcity is often assumed whenever the annual per average per capita supply of water drops below 1,000 m&sump3; within a regiona or country.
Water supply
  Water availability. Water supply refers to the share of water abstraction which is supplied to users (excluding losses in storage, conveyance and distribution).
Water table
  The top of the water surface in the saturated part of an aquifer that is at atmospheric pressure.
Water use
  Water that is used for a specific purpose, such as for domestic use, irrigation, or industrial processing. Water use pertains to human's interaction with and influence on the hydrologic cycle.Three types of water use are distinguished: (a) withdrawal, where water is taken from a river, or surface or underground reservoir, and after use returned to a natural water body, e.g. water used for cooling in industrial processes. Such return flows are particularly important for downstream users in the case of water taken from rivers; (b) consumptive, which starts with withdrawal but in this case without any return, e.g. irrigation, steam escaping into the atmosphere, water contained in final products, i.e. it is no longer available directly for subsequent uses; (c) non- withdrawal, i.e. the in situ use of a water body for navigation (including the floating of logs by the lumber industry), fishing, recreation, effluent disposal and hydroelectric power generation.
Water users' associations
  Water Users Association (WUA) is a non-profit organization that is initiated, and managed by the group of water users along one or more hydrological sub-systems (distributory canals which are the higher level than a watercourse) regardless of the type of farms involved. Those are partnerships between water users (for example, farmers) in the establishment of water catchment/distribution and sanitation systems, sometimes participating also in their management and maintainance. By water users we mean the ordinary cultivators of land, individual members of lease-holding farms and shirkats, owners of private and dehkan farms, owners of home garden plots, etc.
Well
  An artificial excavation, a bored, drilled, or driven shaft, or a dug hole whose depth is greater than the largest surface dimension and whose purpose is to reach underground water supplies or oil, or to store fluids below ground.
Wetland
  Areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water whose depth at low tide does not exceed six metres. They may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands (Article 1.1. and 2.1. of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, 1971). The list of RAMSAR sites is updated every two years and can be obtained from the Convention secretariat. The list of sites includes various types of wetlands (coastal, flood plains, marshes, lakes...) for which data is available and harmonised. The total area of national wetlands can be determined by the use of the following definition, in accordance with the 1998 Eurostat-OECD questionnaire on the environment; land use. Wetlands are there defined as: "Non-wooded area either partially, temporarily or permanently water-logged, the water of which may be fresh, brackish or saline, on blanket or raised peatlands. The water may be either stagnant or running, and is usually shallow".


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