Urban Water Conservation

Promoting urban water conservation is an important element of managing Utah’s scarce water resources in this rapidly growing and urbanizing state.

Careful use of urban water supplies will help to reduce pressures to transfer water from agricultural to municipal and industrial uses and will aid in avoiding negative environmental consequences from removing too much water from streams and aquifers.

Water applied to landscapes constitutes approximately 65-75% of urban water demand. Reducing water used on established landscapes and promoting greater use of low-water plant material and landscape designs offer the greatest opportunities for reducing urban water demand.

Urban landscapes contribute to the health of urban environments and their residents. Yet, they are often watered in excess of the actual water needs of the vegetation.

Landscapes. Cooking, flushing, showering. Where does it go?  Utahns use more culinary/potable water to irrigate landscapes than they use  for cooking, flushing and cleaning combined.

CWEL’s urban water conservation research integrates social and policy science with the plant and irrigation science of other research areas to provide an integrated approach to promoting water-efficient landscaping.

Our urban water conservation research investigates people’s watering behaviors and how those behaviors are shaped by their preferences, knowledge, and experiences as well as by site-specific characteristics of their landscapes (soil properties, plant characteristics, and irrigation systems).

We have developed a water use analysis and assessment tool, WaterMAPS™, to help municipal water managers identify locations with the greatest capacity to conserve water applied to landscapes and enable managers to direct and tailor their water conservation programs to those locations and users.  

Related Peer-Reviewed Publications