Relevant and Peer-reviewed work related to methodological improvements in the characterisation methods for water use impact assessment can be added to the webpage periodically upon request. 

General publications

Mikosch, N., Berger, M. & Finkbeiner, M. Addressing water quality in water footprinting: current status, methods and limitations. Int J Life Cycle Assess 26, 157–174 (2021).
Boulay, A., Lesage, P., Amor, B., & Pfister, S. (2021). Quantifying uncertainty for AWARE characterization factors. Journal of Industrial Ecology.
Boulay A, Drastig S, Amanullah A, et al. (2021) “Building consensus on water use assessment of livestock production systems and supply chains: Outcome and recommendations from the FAO LEAP Partnership”. Ecological Indicators 124.
Gleeson, T., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Porkka, M., Zipper, S. C., Jaramillo, F., Gerten, D., Fetzer, I., Cornell, S. E., Piemontese, L., Gordon, L. J., Rockström, J., Oki, T., Sivapalan, M., Wada, Y., Brauman, K. A., Flörke, M., Bierkens, M. F. P., Lehner, B., Keys, P., … Famiglietti, J. S. (2020). Illuminating water cycle modifications and Earth system resilience in the Anthropocene. Water Resources Research, 56(4), e2019WR024957.

Forin, S., Berger, M. & Finkbeiner, M. (2020)  “Comment to “Marginal and non-marginal approaches in characterization: how context and scale affect the selection of an adequate characterization factor. The AWARE model example”” Int J Life Cycle Assess 25, 663–666.

Boulay A, Benini L, Sala S (2019) Marginal and non-marginal approaches in characterization: how context and scale affect the selection of an adequate characterization model. The AWARE model example. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2019)

Pradinaud C, Northey S, Amor B, et al (2019) Defining freshwater as a natural resource: a framework linking water use to the area of protection natural resources. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2019) 24: 960

Núnez M, Rosenbaum RK, Karimpour S, et al (2018) A Multimedia Hydrological Fate Modeling Framework to Assess Water Consumption Impacts in Life Cycle Assessment. Environ Sci Technol 52

Pfister, S., Boulay, A. M., Berger, M., Hadjikakou, M., Motoshita, M., Hess, T., … & Manzardo, A. (2017). Understanding the LCA and ISO water footprint: A response to Hoekstra (2016)“A critique on the water-scarcity weighted water footprint in LCA”. Ecological Indicators, 72, 352-359.

Núñez, M., C. R. Bouchard, C. Bulle , A.-M. Boulay and M. Margni (2016). “Critical analysis of life cycle impact assessment methods addressing consequences of freshwater use on ecosystems and recommendations for future method development.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment: 1-17.

Boulay A-M, Bare J, De Camillis C, Döll P, Gassert F, Gerten D, Margni M, et al. 2015. Consensus building on the development of a stress-based indicator for lca-based impact assessment of water consumption: Outcome of the expert workshops. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment:1-7.

Boulay A-M, Bayart J-B, Bulle C, Franceschini H, Motoshita M, Muñoz I, et al. 2015. Analysis of water use impact assessment methods (part b): Applicability for water footprinting and decision making with a laundry case study. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment:1-15.

Ridoutt, B., Fantke, P., Pfister, S., Bare, J., Boulay, A-M., Cherubini, F., Frischknecht, R., Hauschild, M., Hellweg, S., Henderson, A., Jolliet, O., Levasseur, A., Margni, M., McKone,T., Michelsen, O.M ., Canals, L., Page, G., Pant, R., Raugei, M., Sala, S., Saouter, E., Verones, F., Wiedmann, T. 2015. Making sense of the minefield of footprint indicators. Environmental Science & Technology.

Boulay A-M, Motoshita M, Pfister S, Bulle C, Muñoz I, Franceschini H, et al. 2014. Analysis of water use impact assessment methods (part a): Evaluation of modeling choices based on a quantitative comparison of scarcity and human health indicators. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment:1-22.

Tillotson M, Liu J, Guan D, Wu P, Zhao X, Zhang G, et al. 2014. Water footprint symposium: Where next for water footprint and water assessment methodology? The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 19:1561-1565.

Berger, M. and M. Finkbeiner (2013). “Methodological Challenges in Volumetric and Impact-Oriented Water Footprints.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 17(1): 79-89.

Boulay, A.-M., A. Y. Hoekstra and S. Vionnet (2013). “Complementarities of Water-Focused Life Cycle Assessment and Water Footprint Assessment.” Environmental Science & Technology.

Chenoweth, J., M. Hadjikakou and C. Zoumides (2013). “Review article: Quantifying the human impact on water resources: a critical review of the water footprint concept.” Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss 10: 9389-9433.

Kounina, A., M. Margni, J.-B. Bayart, A.-M. Boulay, M. Berger, C. Bulle, R. Frischknecht, A. Koehler, L. Milà i Canals, M. Motoshita, M. Núñez, G. Peters, S. Pfister, B. Ridoutt, R. Zelm, F. Verones and S. Humbert (2013). “Review of methods addressing freshwater use in life cycle inventory and impact assessment.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 18(3): 707-721.

Pfister, S. and B. G. Ridoutt (2013). “Water Footprint: Pitfalls on Common Ground.” Environmental Science & Technology 48(1): 4-4.

Tendall, D., C. Raptis and F. Verones (2013). “Water in life cycle assessment—50th Swiss Discussion Forum on Life Cycle Assessment—Zürich, 4 December 2012.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 18(5): 1174-1179.

Bayart, J.-B., C. Bulle, L. Deschênes, M. Margni, S. Pfister, F. Vince and A. Koehler (2010 “A framework for assessing off-stream freshwater use in LCA.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 15(5): 439-453.

Berger, M. and M. Finkbeiner (2010). “Water Footprinting: How to Address Water Use in Life Cycle Assessment?” Sustainability 2(4): 919-944.

Pfister, S. and S. Hellweg (2009). “The water “shoesize” vs. footprint of bioenergy.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(35): E93-E94.

Koehler, A. (2008). “Water use in LCA: managing the planet’s freshwater resources.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 13(6): 451-455.

Bauer, C., F. Warren, ., K. Barton, M. Llorenc, W. Bo and A. A. (2007). “Impact category natural resource use: freshwater ” UNEP/SETAC LC initiative.

Owens, J. W. (2001). “Water Resources in Life-Cycle Impact Assessment: Considerations in Choosing Category Indicators.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 5(2): 37-54.

Methods of Water Use Impact Assessment in LCA

Pierrat, E., Barbarossa, V., Núñez, M., Scherer, L., Link, A., Damiani, M., Verones, F., & Dorber, M. (2023). Global water consumption impacts on riverine fish species richness in Life Cycle Assessment. Science of The Total Environment, 854, 158702.

Debarre, L., Boulay, AM. & Margni, M. (2022). Freshwater consumption and domestic water deprivation in LCIA: revisiting the characterization of human health impacts. Int J Life Cycle Assess 27, 740–754.

Pfister, S., L. Scherer, K. Buxman. (2020) Water scarcity footprint of hydropower based on a seasonal approach – Global assessment with sensitivities of model assumptions tested on specific cases. Science of The Total Environment. Volume 724.

Boulay, A., L. Lenoir. (2020). Sub-national regionalisation of the AWARE indicator for water scarcity footprint calculations Ecological Indicators Volume 111 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.106017

Hélias A, 2020. Comments on the international consensus model for the water scarcity footprint (AWARE) and proposal for an improvement.

Freitas Alves K et al 2020: Water scarcity in Brazil: part 2—uncertainty assessment in regionalized characterization factors.

Boulay, A., Benini, L. & Sala, S. Marginal and non-marginal approaches in characterization: how context and scale affect the selection of an adequate characterization model. The AWARE model example. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2019).

Boulay, A.-M.; Lenoir, L.; Manzardo, A. (2019) Bridging the Data Gap in the Water Scarcity Footprint by Using Crop-Specific AWARE Factors. Water, 11, 2634. DOI: 10.3390/w11122634

Pereira E et al 2019 : Water scarcity in Brazil: part 1—regionalization of the AWARE model characterization factors.

Kaewmai et al 2019: Improving regional water scarcity footprint characterization factors of an available water remaining (AWARE) method.

Boulay A-M, Bare J, Benini L, et al (2018) The WULCA consensus characterization model for water scarcity footprints: assessing impacts of water consumption based on available water remaining (AWARE). Int J Life Cycle Assess 23:368–378

Bayart, J., J. Grimaud and E. Aoustin (Submitted). “The Water Impact Index: a simplified single-indicator approach for water footprinting.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.

Maendly, R. and S. Humbert (Submitted). “Empirical characterization model and factors assessing aquatic biodiversity damages of hydropower water use.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.

Markus Berger, Ruud van der Ent, Stephanie Eisner, Vanessa Bach, and Matthias Finkbeiner . Water Accounting and Vulnerability Evaluation (WAVE): Considering Atmospheric Evaporation Recycling and the Risk of Freshwater Depletion in Water Footprinting Environmental Science & Technology. Article ASAP

Loubet, P., P. Roux, M. Núñez, G. Belaud and V. Bellon-Maurel (2013). “Assessing Water Deprivation at the Sub-river Basin Scale in LCA Integrating Downstream Cascade Effects.” Environmental Science & Technology 47(24): 14242-14249.

Boulay, A.-M., C. Bouchard, C. Bulle, L. Deschênes and M. Margni (2011). “Categorizing water for LCA inventory.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 16(7): 639-651.

Boulay, A.-M., C. Bulle, J.-B. Bayart, L. Deschênes and M. Margni (2011). “Regional Characterization of Freshwater Use in LCA: Modeling Direct Impacts on Human Health.” Environmental Science & Technology 45(20): 8948-8957.

Motoshita, M., N. Itsubo and A. Inaba (2011). “Development of impact factors on damage to health by infectious diseases caused by domestic water scarcity.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 16(1): 65-73.

Ridoutt, B. and S. Pfister (2013). “A new water footprint calculation method integrating consumptive and degradative water use into a single stand-alone weighted indicator.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 18(1): 204-207.

Verones, F., D. Saner, S. Pfister, D. Baisero, C. Rondinini and S. Hellweg (2013). “Effects of Consumptive Water Use on Biodiversity in Wetlands of International Importance.” Environmental Science & Technology 47(21): 12248-12257.

Hanafiah, M. M., M. A. Xenopoulos, S. Pfister, R. S. E. W. Leuven and M. A. J. Huijbregts (2011). “Characterization Factors for Water Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Based on Freshwater Fish Species Extinction.” Environmental Science & Technology 45(12): 5272-5278.

Motoshita, M., N. Itsubo and A. Inaba (2010). “Damage assessment of water scarcity for agricultural use. Proceedings of 9th international conference on EcoBalance. D1-1410.” National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)

Ridoutt, B. G. and S. Pfister (2010). “A revised approach to water footprinting to make transparent the impacts of consumption and production on global freshwater scarcity.” Global Environmental Change 20(1): 113-120.

Verones, F., M. M. Hanafiah, S. Pfister, M. A. J. Huijbregts, G. J. Pelletier and A. Koehler (2010). “Characterization Factors for Thermal Pollution in Freshwater Aquatic Environments.” Environmental Science & Technology 44(24): 9364-9369.

Zelm, R. v., A. M. Schipper, M. Rombouts, J. Snepvangers and M. A. J. Huijbregts (2010). “Implementing Groundwater Extraction in Life Cycle Impact Assessment: Characterization Factors Based on Plant Species Richness for the Netherlands.” Environmental Science & Technology 45(2): 629-635.

Milà i Canals, L., J. Chenoweth, A. Chapagain, S. Orr, A. Antón and R. Clift (2009). “Assessing freshwater use impacts in LCA: Part I—inventory modelling and characterisation factors for the main impact pathways.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 14(1): 28-42.

Pfister, S., A. Koehler and S. Hellweg (2009). “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Freshwater Consumption in LCA.” Environmental Science & Technology 43(11): 4098-4104.

Bösch, M., S. Hellweg, M. J. Huijbregts and R. Frischknecht (2007). “Applying cumulative exergy demand (CExD) indicators to the ecoinvent database.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 12(3): 181-190.

Frischknecht , R., R. Steiner, A. Braunschweig, N. Egli and G. Hildesheimer (2006). “Swiss Ecological Scarcity Method: The New Version 2006.” Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Zurich and Bern, Switzerland.

Sullivan, C. A., J. R. Meigh and A. M. Giacomello (2003). “The Water Poverty Index: Development and application at the community scale.” Natural Resources Forum 27(3): 189-199.

Case Studies: Water Footprinting in LCA

Caldeira C, Quinteiro P, Castanheira E, et al (2018). Water footprint profile of crop-based vegetable oils and waste cooking oil: Comparing two water scarcity footprint methods. J Clean Prod 195

Absar SM, Boulay A-M, Campa MF, et al (2018). The tradeoff between water and carbon footprints of Barnett Shale gas. J Clean Prod.

Peters, G., S. Wiedemann, H. Rowley and R. Tucker (2010). “Accounting for water use in Australian red meat production.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 15(3): 311-320.

Ridoutt, B. G., S. R. O. Williams, S. Baud, S. Fraval and N. Marks (2010). “Short communication: The water footprint of dairy products: Case study involving skim milk powder.” Journal of Dairy Science 93(11): 5114-5117.

Water-related Data

Alcamo, J., P. Döll, T. Henrichs, F. Kaspar, B. Lehner, T. Rösch and S. Siebert (2003). . “Development and testing of the WaterGAP 2 global model of water use and availability.” Hydrological Sciences Journal 48(3): 317-337.

ETH Zurich. (2012). “Water inventory data.” Retrieved June 09, 2014, from

USGS. (2012). “The Water Cycle: Freshwater Storage.” Retrieved March, 25, 2014, from

Water Footprint Network. (2011). “WaterStat.” Retrieved March,25, 2014, from

GEMStat. (2009). “United Nations Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS) Water Programme.” Retrieved March,25, 2014, from

World Resource Institute.. (2013). “AQUEDUCT Measuring and Mapping Water Risk.” Retrieved March, 25, 2014, from

Fekete, B. M., C. J. Vörösmarty and W. Grabs (2002). “High-resolution fields of global runoff combining observed river discharge and simulated water balances.” Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16(3): 15-11-15-10.

Seckler, D., U. Amarasinghe, D. Molden, R. de Silva and R. Barker (1998). “World Water Demand and Supply, 1990 to 2025: Scenarios and Issues.” IIMI Research Report 19: 40p.