Improving Municipal Water Demand Forecasting

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 10:30 AM
Room C210 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Alan Roberson, American Water Works Association, Washington, DC; and A. Carpenter

Handout (684.0 kB)

Water utility managers face increasing risk in matching water supply and demand due to increasing uncertainties in predicting future demand due to several factors, including the potential impacts of climate change. Climate change presents many challenges to the water sector. The impacts of climate change on water supply include changes in the quantity and intensity of precipitation events, changes in snowpack and resultant runoff events, lowering of aquifer levels, and seawater infiltration into coastal aquifers. As such, existing research on potential impacts to water resources has focused on water supply and less is known about climate change's potential impacts on water demand.

Utility managers need accurate tools to both forecast changes in water demand, and be able to respond accordingly. Accurate water demand forecasting is critical, as water demand equals water sales equals revenues for water systems. This presentation will summarize the results from a recently completed research project - Decreasing Risk Thought Improved Municipal Water Demand Forecasting.

A stakeholder process was used to develop a gaps analysis and research plan to address the impacts of climate change on water demand. This research started with an evaluation of the state of the science for municipal water demand forecasting and then identified research gaps.

The stakeholder group developed several specific recommendations for water utilities for reducing risk through improved demand forecasting, and developed strategies for demand forecasting that would appropriate address several factors such as the penetration into the market place of low-flow plumbing fixtures, Xeriscape landscaping, installation of automatic sprinklers, smaller-scale lifestyles, among others.

These recommendations fell into six general categories that need further investigation by water utilities to determine the appropriate means of implementation at their system: 1. Collecting the necessary data; 2. Analyzing water use and related data ; 3. Evaluating potential changes in demand; 4. Evaluating potential changes in demographics; 5. Understanding and incorporating uncertainty; and 6. Planning for and coping with drought

This presentation will go into detail on each of the above recommendations. This research should increase utility managers' better understanding of how to plan for and adapt to the potential impacts on water demand forecasting from climate change.

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