Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017CA373B

Evaluating Water Conservation Policy in California

Institute: California
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $13,375

Principal Investigators: Leah Stokes

Abstract: Over the past two years, California required urban water districts to aim to conserve 20% of their water resources, compared to a 2013 baseline. While some districts were very successful, saving up to 50%, others failed to meet the target. What explains variation in California urban water district’s water conservation success between June 2014 and March 2016, when state-wide mandatory water reduction was in effect? I will use an original monthly panel data set, which integrates with the State Water Resources Control Board monthly consumption data, to examine how variation in policy—pricing, messaging, penalties—and drought severity affected water conservation across districts. The analysis involves both comparing across water districts, to explain the relationship between policy variation and water conservation success, as well as looking within districts, to examine how policy changes over time in a given district can explain conservation change in that district. Given rebounding consumption rates since the 20% target was lifted, this research will also examine which policies are associated with longer-term, sustained water conservation behaviors.