Regionalizing the Financial, Environmental, and Social Impacts of Water Scarcity on the Fresh Produce Industry

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2022-04-22

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Abstract

Water scarcity is a regionalized issue that threatens community wellbeing and agricultural operations. By sector, agriculture is the largest source of global water withdrawals. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been used to show the differences in water demand amongst crops (i.e., which crops are more “sustainable” ), but the true impact of agricultural water withdrawals varies greatly depending on where the crop is grown. For example, while an avocado grown in water-scarce California may require the same amount of water as an avocado grown in rainfall-rich Colombia, the strain on the local water resources is not equal. The project included an evaluation of various water scarcity assessment methods, a modeling of the impacts of water scarcity on business continuity, and a comparison of the social and environmental impacts of water scarcity on four growing regions. In the coming decades, water availability will very likely impact the seasonal availability of produce and influence grocery retailers’ investments or divestments in certain crop-growing regions.

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Wherry, Lillian (2022). Regionalizing the Financial, Environmental, and Social Impacts of Water Scarcity on the Fresh Produce Industry. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24911.


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