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New standard for measurement of ‘water footprint’

New standard for measurement of ‘water footprint’

A new international standard will guide organisations to measure their 'water footprint', and New Zealanders were involved in developing the standard.

ISO 14046 Environmental management – Water footprint – Principles, requirements and guidelines will allow all kinds of organisations, from industry, to government and NGOs, the means to measure their ‘water footprint’, or their potential environmental impact of water use and pollution.

Developed by experts from all over the world, the standard is based on a Life Cycle Assessment and can assist in:

• Assessing the magnitude of potential environmental impacts related to water

• identifying ways to reduce those impacts

• facilitating water efficiency and optimisation of water management at product, process, and organisational levels

• providing scientifically consistent and reliable information for reporting water footprint results that can be tracked over time.

The standard specifies consideration of geographical and temporal dimensions, and quantification of the potential environmental impacts associated with changes in both water quality and water quantity in a comprehensive water footprint.

Sustainability is a key priority for governments and businesses alike, and the ability to accurately assess a water footprint is a vital step towards this goal. This document has been developed over the last five years with active input from New Zealand and a number of other countries throughout that time.

As New Zealand representative on the ISO Water Footprint Working Group, Standards New Zealand committee member Dr Sarah McLaren represented the views of the New Zealand International Review Group (IRG) at the Working Group. The IRG is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries and has about 50 members drawn from industry, research, and government bodies. Through its meetings twice a year, the IRG has been able to reach consensus positions on various issues raised during development of the standard, and provide constructive comments to improve the document.

For further information contact Jayne McCullum,


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