The Real Deal: Actual Water Use in Irrigated Landscapes by Mining Water Billing Data

Project ID: 215
Principal Investigator: Fred Liljegren
Research Topic: Supporting Irrigation Districts
Funded Fiscal Years: 2010
Keywords: None

Research Question

How to develop a method to combine the mining of water district billing data with irrigated landscaped areas for individual water end users to quantify depth of landscape water use; depth of water use to determine capacity to conserve and statistically quantify water savings effectiveness of conservation programs?

Need and Benefit

The growing urban water crises from population growth underscore the need for Reclamation to become actively involved in promoting urban water use efficiency. Reclamation's Water Conservation Field Services Program (WCFSP) has opened the doors to many of Reclamation's urban water users. The WCFSP acting in partnership with universities, the Extension Service program, and many other state and local partners is ideally positioned to promote more efficient water use by the urban water users. The proposed research would provide improved opportunities to reduce water and chemical fertilizer use.

Municipal water agencies supplied by the Reclamation in the Intermountain West face both limited and uncertain water supplies due to population growth and variable drought. Nearly all of these agencies have begun or are considering programs to reduce water consumption among residential and commercial-industrial-institutional water users. Irrigated urban landscapes account for 50-70 percent of total yearly water use for these agencies and thus are the prime target for water conservation programs. Such programs typically include:

* Landscape irrigation system evaluations (water checks/audits) and irrigation schedules (when and how much to irrigate) for volunteers and targeted end users

* Rebates for smart irrigation controllers that automatically adjust irrigation schedules based on local evapotranspiration rates

* Enforcement of water use ordinances that restrict water wasting behaviors

* Low water landscaping

However, effectiveness of these programs is difficult to measure for two reasons:

* They are broadly targeted to all end users, thus may be ineffective with end users who are already efficient

* They do not provide a way to measure actual water savings.

Water conservation programs may be ineffective when applied to people who are already conserving water in their irrigated landscapes and simply want validation. Also, measuring actual water savings of these conservation programs can be difficult and sometimes impossible at the end user level. Historically, amount of conserved water was measured as the difference in slopes of season volumetric water use regressed on seasonal rainfall for treatment and control populations.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Independent Peer Review

The following documents were reviewed by qualified Bureau of Reclamation employees. The findings were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Real Deal Reports and Publications. Includes 2 published papers and a Masters study (interim, PDF, 6.1MB)
By Fred Liljegren
Publication completed on November 01, 2011

The report and publications include:

Implementating Landscape Water Conservation in Public School Institutional settings: A case for situational problem solving. Published in JAWRA.

Quantifying Urban Landscape Water Conservation Potential Using High Resolution Remote Sensing and GIS. Published in Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing.

Software for Analyzing Municipal Water Data to Design Water Conservation Strategies. Masters Graduate Reports and Creative Projects. Paper 58

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Last Updated: 6/22/20