Environmental sustainability assessment is a rapidly growing
field where measures of sustainability are used within an
assessment framework to evaluate and compare alternative
actions. Here we argue for the importance of evaluating
environmental sustainability of water at the watershed scale. We
review existing frameworks in brief before reviewing watershedrelevant
measures in more detail. While existing measures are
diverse, overlapping, and interdependent, certain attributes that
are important for watersheds are poorly represented, including
spatial explicitness and the effect of natural watershed
components, such as rivers. Most studies focus on one or a
few measures, but a complete assessment will require use of
many existing measures, as well as, perhaps, new ones.
Increased awareness of the broad dimensions of environmental
sustainability as applied to water management should
encourage integration of existing approaches into a unified
assessment framework appropriate for watersheds.
Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Program, Charles Edward Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech
Copyright: dx.doi.org/10.1021/es400513f | Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013, 47, 8083−8090. © 2013 American Chemical Society.