Values of Water Resource in Scotland
Values of Water Resource in Scotland
1.0 Executive Summary The main purpose of this report is to give out the definition of “values” of water resources and the ways to account for it. In addition to the traditional value expressed solely in economic terms, the new concept pays more attention to the social and environmental benefits. According to the new value system, recommendations have been made to help government determine whether a policy is appropriate for the purpose to maintain and develop the value of Scotland’s water resources.
Scotland has always been considered as a hydro nation. Because of the landscape and climate condition in Scotland, there is a substantial amount of rainfall. However, according to some records mentioned by P. Wright(1995), variations occur locally ranging from 270% of the average in the high lands in the west, to just over 40% in the east and south-east of the country. The traditional concern about the value of water resource is to balance the supply and demand. Laws have been established to specify the rights to collect and use water resources.
With the concept of sustainable development becomes more and more popular today, maintaining and improving the value of water resources needs to be considered by government. New policy should be made to maintain resources for the next generation. In addition, instead of the nationwide view to make decision, cooperation with areas around and even far away from the land should be set up to sustain the water system and make healthier use of water resources.
In order to deal with these new problems, this report also identifies and discusses some strategies. The main purpose of these strategies is to focus on conflicts between generations and nations deriving from water resources to “Making Scotland a world leading hydro nation”.
2.0 Context and importance of the problem 2.1 Economic use of water At the outset, the Water Framework Directive(WFD) states ” Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treaded as such”. This statement shows the idea that water is an important resource which needs to be protected to sustain the health of earth. However, actually, water is indeed a kind of commercial product when it is conveyed to homes and farms for domestic use or irrigation. Whether the price of water is underestimated is an important issue to maintain the sustainable use of water.
Nowadays, instead of the more previous view of water supply in 1990s (P. Wright, 1995), governments begin to question the total amount of water demand. Approaches like cost-effectiveness analysis to evaluate the demand of water resource and economic instrument like polluter pays principle (Dominic Moran, 2007) have been taken into action in Scotland and other countries in European Union. It means that not only economic benefit but also environmental cost has been added into the evaluation system.
Thus the method to build up economic instruments and better ways to use water resource to improve the marginal value of water resource are worth investigating. Especially in Scotland, the landscape is excellent for developing hydropower which is a worthy way to be focused on. 2.2 Social conflicts
Just as mentioned above, when formulating a new water plan, governments always find ways to increase water supplies and reduce demands in a nationwide range. Yet, seldom did government try to cooperate with nations around or even far away from the land. There are frequent conflicts occurred for the water resource. Many nations tend to seek help from some international institutions, even though some researchers (Meredith Giordano, 2002) claim that the effect of the institution is little enough to ignore. Then nations use force to solve the problem. However, it is a bad view of point. Nations especially ones close to each other or share a river together can and should cooperate to maintain the health of ecosystem and sustainable access to freshwater.
Scotland is in different situation with most countries in the world. There is no countries have virtual water flow exchange with it. The conflict is within the territory because of the variation of water distribution. That is much easier to deal with. Government only need to balance the demand and supply and consider how to cooperate with other countries for higher value of water resource.f It has richer water resources than England and Wales but also distributed extremely imbalance. The import and export advantages are both obvious in Scotland. 2.3 Environmental Impact
Environmental impact is something related to the next generation. In 1987, the World Environmental Organization put up the idea of “sustainable development”, which conveys the concept of intergenerational equity. Traditional use pattern of water resource can hardly match the goal of sustainable development because the policy is established by solely considering about the nation’s own economic benefit. Governments tend to make fully use of the water. Thus, river flowing across several countries is always in bad condition. It will cost more for the river to recover. Sometimes, the impact is just cannot be reversed and descendants will never access freshwater from that water resource.
Government should take measures to maintain the condition of freshwater and cooperate with other countries who share the same resource to protect it and make better use of it. 3.0 Critique of policy options
3.1 Water footprint method Before taking steps to establish new water policy to deal with the conflicts mentioned above, a measurement should be given first. Water footprint (WF) method is a quantized and visualized method to show the production, consumption and pollution of water in the world dimension. It mainly records three kinds of water footprint – the consumptive use of rainwater (green water footprint), the consumptive use of ground and surface water (blue water footprint) and volumes of polluted water (grey water footprint). It shows the consumption situation of each nation as well as the flows between them. This method has a lot of advantages over other method:
First, it is in the world dimension. If a nation uses this measurement to evaluate the value of water resources and its behavior for using it, it is easy to find its own position of water production and consumption in the world. Second, for each kind of water resource, water footprint gives detailed information for a nation and makes it clear of a nation’s advantageous resources and disadvantages ones. Government can use this information to make commercial cooperation plans with other countries. Last, it helps limit the un-environmental friendly products with low price to compete with other environmental friendly ones. Nations produce this kind of products will not get their estimated economic returns. 3.2 Legislation
According the research on water management policy locally (Dominic Moran, 2008) and internationally (Meredith Giordano, 2002), laws are always drawn on the problems that occurring restricted to the territory. However, new laws should be established in terms of the commercial relationship with foreign countries and usage of a common river. It needs to include two part, one to limit the polluted behavior and the other to limit buying the products related to polluted behavior. 3.3 Commercial strategies
Every country produces water-intensive products for use or export for economic benefit. In terms of maintaining or improving the value of water resources, it is a good way to import water-intensive goods instead of producing by the nation itself for a country has few water resources while a country with rich water resources export the water-intensive commodities.
For Scotland, water resource is rich in the west highland. It is also a nice resource of hydropower. Thus, producing water-intensive products in the west and export them as well as electricity is better than conveying water to the east and produce these things. Using market to deal with the variation of water resource is totally a good choice. 4.0 Policy Recommendations
4.1 Improve economic value of water use First, Cost-effectiveness method will be used to make decision of a new production project related to water resources. The difference is that the cost does not only account for the economic cost, but also the environmental and social cost.
Second, Scotland can make some use of the landscape and climate condition to make economic benefit. Exporting electricity generated by hydro power or other products taking advantage of hydropower are good choices. 4.2 Enhance cooperation
First, using water footprint to ensure the consumptive and productive status of the own area, which includes that the most water consumption field and the most polluted one. According to the analysis, make a plan to cooperate with other areas.
Second, as part of the United Kingdom and no other actual water flows with other countries, there will no direct conflict with other countries because of water resources. Thus, long-distance commercial relationship with other countries is the most important part to be considered. Government should concern which kind of water footprint should be externalized and make serious decision when cooperating with others. 4.3 Validation method – WF method
First, establish the water footprint evaluation system. It is worth mentioning that instead of previous recording system restricted to the territory of the nation, it is highly recommended to include the water footprint related to the new decision and make the last decision by considering all of them.
Second, use water footprint record to choose the cooperators as well as evaluate the cooperation undertaken. Check out whether the cooperation is economic, environmental friendly as well as good for social atmosphere.