Estimating Weather-Sensitive Urban Water Demands and Implications of Future Climate Scenarios

Authors:

  • Jack Kiefer - Hazen and Sawyer

The demand for water is sensitive to climatic conditions. Differences in climate explain large differences in water use across different geographic regions. Repeating climate cycles typically explain as much as 80 percent of intra-annual variability in water use. Meanwhile, actual weather conditions account for a large portion of deviations from cyclical patterns in demand due to climate. Thus, understanding weather and climate effects improves water demand forecasting and permits a better ability to isolate the effects of other factors, such as water efficiency, pricing strategies, and water shortage management activities. Because of the importance of weather and climate in shaping water demand patterns, changes in climate and weather variability could have a profound impact on water consumption. The ability to identify, model, and simulate weather-sensitive demands is crucial for evaluating the impact of future climate scenarios and for judging options for preparing for or mitigating the impacts of climate variability.

This paper will illustrate the importance of climate and weather in explaining differences in water use patterns. Next, the paper will outline requisite data needs for isolating weather-sensitive demands and include examples of modeling the effects of climate and weather. Using downscaled climate projection data, the paper will summarize a range of potential climate futures, and, in conjunction with the demand models, simulate potential changes in water use under future climate conditions. Implications of the climate scenarios will be compared and contrasted across water utilities located in different areas of the United Stated and Canada.

For more information, please contact the author at jkiefer@hazenandsawyer.com.

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