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Frequently Asked Questions

What's new? What's changed? How can I interpret differences from previous Aqueduct data? Please consult our summary of what's new in Aqueduct version 3.0

Q: What is Aqueduct?

A: Aqueduct is a platform run by World Resources Institute, an environmental research organization. Aqueduct is comprised of tools that help companies, governments, and civil society understand and respond to water risks – such as water stress, variability from season-to-season, pollution, and of water access. Its maps and data are used directly by hundreds of companies and are cited in many publications.

Learn more about Aqueduct’s history and team

Q: Why did you update the Aqueduct tool?

A: Based on feedback from users, experience from applying previous data, and improvements in hydrological data and databases, we’ve updated the baseline maps for the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas and Country Rankings. The Aqueduct Floods tool will be updated in the months to come.

The current tool now includes improvements such as higher temporal and spatial resolution, new indicators, and a more holistic hydrological model.  For more information about changes to Aqueduct, please read our summary of what's new in Aqueduct version 3.0

Q: Can I share, reproduce, or adapt Aqueduct’s data and/or maps in my website, paper, book, etc.?

A: Yes, so long as you attribute to World Resource Institute’s Aqueduct. The Aqueduct 3.0 database is licensed through Creative Commons as Internationally licensed work, as long there is attribution. The license is not transferrable, meaning we don’t transfer copyright to any other organizations. We ask that you attribute our work as “Source: WRI Aqueduct, accessed on [insert date]” with a link, if possible, to aqueduct.wri.org. 

If you use or reference Aqueduct in publicly-available work, we’d love to learn more about it and share with our team. If you’re interested in sharing it, please send it to aqueduct@wri.org 

Q: There are four Aqueduct tools – which should I use?

A: Choose your tool based on the information and functionality you need:

  • For information on water-related risks and to assess exposure to water risk across multiple locations, please use the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
  • For information on water risk to agriculture and food security use Aqueduct Food,
  • For information on flood risks and their impacts, and to assess the costs and benefits of flood protection, use Aqueduct Floods
  • For high-level summary statistics on water risk at a national and sub-national level use the Country Profile and Rankings.

The Demos page includes videos demonstrating how to use each tool.  

Q: How do I use each Aqueduct tool?

A: Each Aqueduct tool is designed to be as easy as possible for users to understand. demo videos provide overviews of how to use each tool.

If you still have questions related to the tools, please email aqueduct@wri.org.  to join one of our demo and Q&A webinars, held every other week starting in mid-September, 2019.

Q: What does this indicator (baseline water stress, interannual variability, drought risk, etc.) mean? 

A: For short descriptions within each tool, click the question mark icon to the right of an indicator name. For detailed information regarding data and methodologies, please consult the technical note. You can also find descriptions of each indicator on Resource Watch.

Q: Where are your data sourced from?

A: Data descriptions and sources for each indicator can be found in the tool itself by clicking the question mark to the right of an indicator name, or in the Aqueduct 3.0 technical note. Aqueduct’s unique indicators and calculations are also explored further in this document. For information about how we aggregate data to state and province levels, please consult our methodology. The methods used to aggregate remain the same from version 2.1 to 3.0.

Q: Why did you choose these indicators?

A: WRI chose these indicators working in close consultation with our research partners, and target audience, based on data availability and published literature. More information can be found in our technical note.

Q: Can I download Aqueduct’s data?

A: Yes, Aqueduct data is available for download in several formats. If you would like to adapt and/or share our data, please do – so long as you provide attribution as dictated by our Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License.

Q: Can I download Aqueduct’s underlying code?

A: Yes, Aqueduct’s underlying code can be downloaded on GitHub. If you would like to adapt and/or share our data, please do – so long as you provide attribution as dictated by our Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License.

Q: I’m having a technical issue with Aqueduct.

A: Please first confirm that you are using the tools correctly by consulting the demo videos for each tool. You can also email aqueduct@wri.org.  to join one of our demo and Q&A webinars, held every other week starting in mid-September, 2019.

If your technical issue is a bug, data anomaly, or error, please first consult the list of known issues which we have responded to. If your issue is not included in the previous link, please email us at aqueduct@wri.org

Q: What year do the maps under the “baseline” tab show? When will the data be updated?

A: Aqueduct’s baseline is a representation of the current situation excluding anomaly events – in other words, it shows water trends of what you can reasonably expect based on historic data.  The tool does not show real-time data.

The data used to calculate the baseline include over 50 years of data across several indicators and is usable for current and future decision-making. We last updated the tool in 2019, using data spanning 1960-2014. To stay informed on Aqueduct data updates, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow @WRIAqueduct on Twitter.

Q: How is this version of Aqueduct different from previous iterations?

A: The current suite of tools have been updated from version 2.1 with new and improved indicators, hydrological model, and sub-basins. A full description of what has changed from the previous Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas and Country Rankings data can be found here, in our summary of what's new in Aqueduct version 3.0.

Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas was first launched in 2013, after three years of development. Since then, there have been several versions of the tool, each with updated data and user interface. To learn more about the history of Aqueduct, visit our About page.

Q: My organization set sustainability / water strategies using the old Aqueduct data. What should we do now?

Both datasets are screening tools and should be used to prioritize action. If you’ve already set goals on an established, short timeline using 2.1, please continue to use that data. If setting new goals, or using a longer timeline, we recommend using version 3.0.

Q: Does Aqueduct store my uploaded location data?

A: The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas allows users to upload or select multiple locations, and download resulting scores. We never store location data. All data that users upload is deleted immediately – so please download/export data before closing the page if you’d like to save this information offline.

Q: Who uses Aqueduct?

A: Aqueduct’s users span many sectors and countries. Aqueduct’s tools and data have been used for years by companies (including some of the largest multinational corporations); country, state, and local government officials; academics and students; and water sector practitioners. To read examples of how organizations use Aqueduct, please visit our User Stories page

Each of our four tools has a different target audience and user base.

Companies are the main user of the Aqueduct Risk Atlas. Aqueduct Food is designed with development banks, companies that source food, and agricultural ministers in mind. Aqueduct Flood has been used by governments, companies, and disaster risk managers to avoid flood risks and determine where to invest for maximum resilience.

Q: I need help with my organization’s data. Can WRI help me with my analysis?

A: Please first consult our demo videos which – along with this FAQ page – answer the most common user questions related to finding and interpreting data. If your question remains, please contact us at aqueduct@wri.org to join one of our Q&A webinars.

The Aqueduct team also works one-on-one with companies through the Aqueduct Alliance, and our Corporate Water Stewardship projects, to create tailored risk assessments, studies, and more. For more information on working with us in this capacity, please contact us at aqueduct@wri.org.