Beijing has experienced rapid economic development and population growth during recent decades, aggravating water scarcity. In order to investigate the water consumption of Beijing, this paper quantitatively evaluates the water footprint (WF), the intensity of the water footprint (Iwf) and the external water dependency (WD) based on the top-down and bottom-up methods. We obtain the following major conclusions: (1) the total WF in Beijing is 353 108 m³ in 2012; per capita WF is 1,704 m³, which is 8 times that of the entity water of Beijing; (2) the Iwf in Beijing rises after 2007, indicating that there remains a great potential for improving water-use efficiency; (3) through virtual water trade, the external WF takes over 70% of the total WF annually; therefore, Beijing has faced more severe water resource stress recently; (4) through the spatial analysis of external WD, we identify that in each side of the Hu line, distribution of distance of the flow of imported virtual water shows homogeneity, and that WD in the southeast region is high and in the northwest is weak.

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