In this paper, the European Union's Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (WFD) that is intended to foster protection of water resources is examined, focusing on the improvement of ecological and chemical quality of surface and groundwater. The WFD includes the concept of full cost recovery (FCR) in accordance with the Polluter-Pays Principle, as one of the tools of an adequate and sustainable water resource management system. The WFD defines three different costs associated with water: resource costs (RC), financial costs (FC), and environmental costs (ECs). The FCR of water is examined from a biophysical perspective using emergy evaluation to: (1) establish resource values of water from different sources, (2) establish the full economic costs associated with supplying water, and (3) the societal costs of water that is used incorrectly; from which the resource costs, financial costs, and environmental costs, respectively, can be computed. Financial costs are the costs associated with providing water including energy, materials, labor and infrastructure. The emergy based monetary values vary between 0.15 and 1.73 (sic)/m(3) depending on technology. The emergy based, global average resource value (from which resource costs can be computed) is derived from two aspects of water: its chemical potential and its geopotential. The chemical potential monetary value of different sources such as rain, groundwater, and surface water derived from global averages of emergy inputs varies from 0.03 to 0.18 (sic)/m(3), depending on source, and the geopotential values vary from 0.03 to 2.40 (sic)/m(3), depending on location in the watershed. The environmental costs of water were averaged for the county of Spain and were 1.42 (sic)/m(3). Time of year and spatial location within the watershed ultimately influence the resource costs (computed from emergy value of chemical potential and geopotential energy) of water. To demonstrate this spatial and temporal variability, a case study is presented using the Foix watershed in northeastern Spain. Throughout the year, the resource value of water varies from 0.21 to 3.17 (sic)/m(3), depending on location within the watershed. It is concluded that FCR would benefit from the evaluation of resource costs using spatially and temporally explicit emergy accounting. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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