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The value of water – if hidden, it will be overlooked

Gonzalo Delacámara​Whatever choice in life is based on our perception of the value of things, experiences, and expectations. Whether something is taken, somewhat downplayed or completely overlooked is often the result of the value we assign to it.

Unlike common wisdom, almost everything about water remains unknown. Urban users tend to ignore how much water they consume, most upstream activities before water reaches their tap (notably water withdrawal in the catchment), what happens once wastewater is flushed down the toilet, let alone what an aquifer is or whether water infrastructures are properly maintained and replaced… Barely all that is invisible to them. Other water users (farmers, manufacturing companies, hydropower operators, etc.) may be more aware of the actual impact water has as a critical input for their production processes but it is very likely that, even in that case, they ignore the outcomes on aquatic ecosystems of their production and consumption patterns, the reason why we refer to these as external impacts (either benefits or costs).

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Gonzalo Delacámara is researcher at IMDEA Water and leader of the WssTP Cluster ‘ The Value of Water’.