Oct 21, 2013

WRF Report Studies Changes in Water Use

Report to help utilities plan for, respond to changing water use patterns as a result of climate change

Water Research Foundation Climate Change Water Use Report

While many climate change studies focus on the potential impact to water supplies, what might be the impact on water demand? And what might those changes in demand mean to water utilities? A new study by the Water Research Foundation (WRF) provides the tools to help water utilities answer those questions.

The study is titled: “Changes in Water Use Under Regional Climate Change Scenarios” (project #4263). The full report and supporting materials, including a webcast available on demand, can be found on WRF’s website. This research project is also featured in the latest edition of Advances in Water Research magazine, which is free and available to the public.

This project studied anticipated water demand and use patterns under a range of climate change scenarios, categorized by specific customer class and industry sector, so that water utilities may better plan for and respond to changing water use patterns as a result of climate change. The report provides specific recommendations for water utilities and identifies key concerns and areas for additional analysis by region.

A key element to the study was the development of six case studies involving WRF member utilities. These include:

  • Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Massachusetts Water Resource Authority
  • Region of Durham (Ontario, Canada)
  • San Diego County Water Authority
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority
  • Tampa Bay Water

The case studies use a scenario approach to incorporating climate change projections into water demand modeling for their specific regions. The scenarios are designed to identify a wide range of model outputs in terms of temperature and precipitation.

For the overall industry the study resulted in several principal conclusions spanning across several topics that are important to evaluating the potential effects of climate change on water demand. These include:

  • Weather sensitive demands are prevalent and will be affected by climate change.
  • Evaluation of weather and climate impacts involves a host of technical modeling requirements, choices, and tradeoffs.
  • Derivation and processing of climate model projections is a data intensive process.
  • Climate projections and estimated demand impacts vary geographically.
  • A range of options could assist in adapting to demand impacts.