New Date/Time: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 / 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. - Due to a WRRC scheduling error, the date of this Brown Bag has been moved from Mar. 3 to Mar. 11.
The impacts on western water supplies of prolonged drought, scant snow packs, receding reservoirs, and overdrafted aquifers are well-documented. By contrast, wide-spread, long-term declines in water demand have been a well-kept secret. The USGS recently released “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010.” The report documents how between 1980 and 2010, we managed to support 85 million more people and a growing economy while reducing water use by 57 billion gallons per day. The declines are both wide and deep, occurring in municipal, industrial, agricultural, and power sectors, across the U.S.
This presentation focuses on municipal demand in the Southwest. Declines are nearly universal, and occur in both indoor and outdoor demand. Often, per-capita declines have exceeded population growth, resulting in utilities delivering less water to more people. Factors driving down indoor demand include efficiency standards for appliances and fixtures. Outdoor demand has also dropped, reflecting the declining appeal of turf and backyard pools and a growing interest in sustainability. Shifting household demographics also are impacting demand, in complex ways. Water demand is no longer tightly tied to population, economic output, or quality of life, and the downward trends are expected to continue through the end of the decade.
Many water professionals who were planning how to meet expected growing water demands have been surprised, perplexed, and even challenged by declines in demand. A number of issues have arisen, including fiscal consequences, operational issues, planning challenges and public perception issues. The presentation concludes with thoughts on how this came to be, and how we might better plan to meet future municipal water needs.
Gary Woodard has addressed water resources issues as both an academic and a consultant for over 30 years. At the University of Arizona, he has brought a wide array of analytical skills to bear on a range of water policy issues. Gary has won several awards for creative outreach efforts, including a degree program for mid-career water professionals and citizen science programs. He also has chaired a water district, served as an elected official, founded a water conservation alliance, and is a past president of UCOWR. Woodard’s work with two UNESCO water centers has taken him to arid lands across the Middle East and North Africa. He also helped draft Saudi Arabia’s new National Water Act. As a consultant with Montgomery & Associates, he models water demand, evaluates utility assets, forecasts trends, and assesses conservation programs.