Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016UT203B

WaterMAPS™ for Promoting Urban Landscape Water Use Efficiency

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $26,100 Total Non-Federal Funds: $54,829

Principal Investigators: Joanna EndterWada, Roger Kjelgren

Abstract: This project examines patterns of water use and change to promote conservation on managed urban landscapes. Analysis, monitoring and information provision will be refined and extended through applied research conducted with Utah cities using WaterMAPS™. The research is relevant to helping Utah deal with its major water availability issues of drought, growing water scarcity due to population and economic growth, and the uncertainties of climate change. Landscape water conservation is prioritized in Utah and throughout the U.S. West as an important urban water demand management strategy, particularly in arid areas where outdoor watering uses a significant percentage of municipal water supplies. Landscape water conservation has two basic approaches: promote efficient irrigation management on existing turfgrass landscapes that are overwatered, and promote transition to low-water, non-turf-landscaping that uses drought tolerant, low elevation native species at plant density. Policies and programs designed to promote landscape water conservation include voluntary and mandatory measures structured to provide education, financial incentives, and technical assistance to encourage behavior change and adoption of new efficient irrigation technologies and low water landscaping practices. The ability to test efficacy of these various approaches, however, has been hampered by the difficulty in isolating changes in water use due to water conservation interventions from changes due to the many other factors affecting landscape water use patterns, particularly climate impacts on water and residential occupancy due to human mobility. Tools to understand, monitor, and analyze landscape water use in urban systems, and the dynamic interactions of people, water and urban vegetation, has practical water management applications. Such tools can aid cities to understand landscape water use in excess of landscape water need, to monitor water use change and determine its causes, and to analyze how landscape water use and conservation fit into the management of urban water supply systems. This research addresses the important issue of urban landscape water use and utilizes an innovative technology developed at USU WaterMAPS™ (Water Management Analysis and Planning Software) to better characterize and understand patterns of urban landscape water use and conservation effectiveness.