Water exploitation index
The water exploitation index (WEI), or withdrawal ratio, is defined as the mean annual total demand for fresh water divided by the long-term average freshwater resource. A WEI of more than 20 % is indicative of a water-stressed area particularly during drought or low river flow periods (Figure 8.1.). Using the 20 % criterion, about 31 % of the European population lives in countries suffering from high water stress, and 71 % in countries where water abstraction is more than 10 % of renewable freshwater resources. Even if a country has sufficient water resources at the national level there may be problems in dry regions or around large cities.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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