From the SDGs: Relevant targets

6.3) By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

6.4) By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

From the SDGs: Aviation-relevant indicators

6.3.1) Proportion of wastewater safely treated.

6.4.1) Change in water-use efficiency over time.

6.5.1) Degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100).

Did you know?

Traditional cleaning methods for a widebody aircraft could use up to 13,000 litres of water, but new ‘dry wash’ techniques can reduce that by 95%.

Relevance to aviation

This is not an area usually identified as a major impact for air transport, although like any industry aviation must be mindful of water use, particularly in water constrained areas. However, water availability may constitute a significant restriction on growth if it is not managed in a proactive way. A large number of airports have robust water management plans.

Examples of action

  • Hong Kong Airport uses a ‘triple water system’ prove the efficiency of its three major water sources: freshwater, seawater and treated wastewater, which has helped the airport reduce its freshwater demand by 50%.
  • Airports Council International North America has developed best practice guidelines for airports to reduce water consumption. Around half of US airports already have water conservation programmes in place.
  • Emirates Airline uses a ‘drywash’ technique on its fleet which saves 11.7 million litres of water each year, whilst improving the aerodynamic performance of its aircraft (reducing fuel burn).
  • Canberra Airport has published an extensive Water Management Plan, which addresses issues relating to stormwater, groundwater and recycled water.
  • Oslo Airport conducts environmentally-friendly deicing operations, by using non-toxic deicing fluid for aircraft and additive-free organic salt for the runways and taxiways.
  • Finavia’s water management strategy not only follows environmentally sound standards, but also supports the renovation of local trout streams.