Water Resources Planning and Management

waterfall 2Water Resources Planning and Management is the "parent" of water conservation and efficiency in many organizations.  The Alliance for Water Efficiency recommends that water conservation planning be fully integrated into overall water resources supply planning so that the benefits and costs of conservation programs can be compared against the benefits and costs of water supply options on a level playing field.

Developing a number of water supply options that include water conservation is at the heart of integrated resource planning (IRP). According to recent research published by the American Water Works Association, one of the central tenets of IRP is achieving goals at the least cost.  IRP can be useful in the joint evaluation of supply-side and demand-side options in developing a resource portfolio. Water utilities that once viewed themselves as being only in the water supply business, have redefined their mission as one of providing safe and reliable water service (Chesnutt, et. al. 2007).  Copies of the AWWA report titled, Water Conservation Programs for Integrated Water Management can be purchased from the AWWA Bookstore here

Water Efficiency Expands Options

Many water utilities appreciate the value of water use efficiency (WUE) for accomplishing their long-term mission of providing a safe and reliable potable water supply. The importance of water efficiency goes well beyond the short-term measures invoked to respond to drought emergencies, and is much broader in scope. Improved water-use efficiency is seen as a viable compliment to – and in some instances, a substitute for – investments in long-term water supplies and infrastructure (Chesnutt, et. al. 2007).

Water efficiency programs must be held to a reasonable economic standard: a good WUE program should produce benefits (i.e. water savings, increased awareness, etc.) that exceed the costs of implementing the program.   Imbedded within this standard are many complexities that have troubled water utilities as they attempt to rationally determine the efficacy of water efficiency programs.  As Chesnutt points out in his research, these difficulties fall into three categories:

  1. Conceptual. How are the benefits and costs of conservation programs defined? How do benefits and costs differ when viewed from the utility or customer perspective? Why are different perspectives important?
  2. Analytical. How should benefit and cost information be compared to make the correct decisions? What analytical tools can facilitate these decisions?
  3. Informational. How can a water utility to obtain reliable information to estimate the benefit and cost components?

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is working to develop tools and information to assist utilities in conducting sensible and reliable benefit-cost calculations about water conservation programs.

AWE Library Resources

AWE maintains a number of general water resources planning and management documents and pages in the reference library.  Some of these content items can be accessed from the links provided below.

Water Resources Planning and Management

U.S. Geological Survey (2017) Public Supply and Domestic Water Use in the United States in 2015

U.S. Geological Survey (2014) Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010 

Environmental Law Institute (2014) Five Things to Consider When Developing and Adapting Water Policies and Programs in the West 

International Water Association (2012) International Statistics for Water Services 

EPA National Water Program (2012) Strategy: Response to Climate Change  

Ceres (2012) Water Ripples: Expanding Risks for U.S. Water Providers  

American Water Works Association (2012) Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge 

Conrad, Esther (2012) Climate Change and Integrated Regional Water Management in California: A Preliminary Assessment of Regional Approaches 

United States Environmental Protection Agency (2012) Climate Ready Water Utilities Adaptation Strategies Guide 

Aquacraft (2011) California Single-Family Water Use Efficiency Study 

United States Environmental Protection Agency (2011) Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments: Four Case Studies of Water Utility Practices 

Green for All (2011) Water Works: Rebuilding Infrastructure, Creating Jobs, Greening the Environment

Hoekstra, Arjen et al (2011) The Water Footprint Assessment Manual

U.S. Geological Survey (October 2009) Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2005  

City of Chicago Department of Environment (2009) Chicago Climate Action Plan  

California Natural Resources Agency (August 2009) California Climate Adaptation Strategy (Discussion Draft) 

H2Ontario (July 2009) A Blueprint for a Comprehensive Water Conservation Strategy 

Aspen Institute (May 2009) Sustainable Water Systems: Step One - Redefining the Nation's Infrastructure Challenge 

Bend, Oregon (March 2009) 2030 Action Plan  

EPA Office of Water (September 2008) National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change 

CSS (2008) U.S. Water Supply and Distribution Fact Sheet 

Hanak E and J Lund (2008) Adapting California's Water Management to Climate Change  

American Rivers (2008) Hidden Reservoir: Why Water Efficiency is the Best Solution for the Southeast  

LAO (2008) California's Water - an LAO Primer 

MWH (2005) Source Water Substitution Lit Review Queensland Australia 

EEA (2004) Sectoral Water Use in Europe 

GAO (2003) Freshwater Supply - States' Views on Federal Help in Shortage  

EPOC (2002) Household Energy and Water Consumption - European Union 

AWWARF (1999) Residential End Uses of Water Study  

Water Rates and Rate Structures Library Content Listing 

Drought Library Content Listing 

Alternate Water Supply Library Content Listing 


Definition of Terms

Looking for a quick definition of a water or conservation related term or concept?  The AWE Glossary has an extensive list of the most commonly used terms in the biz.

AWE Glossary of Common Water Related Terms, Abbreviations, and Definitions 

Help Us Improve the AWE Resource Library

Please send us your ideas for improving the resource library!  Let us know what is missing, what needs to be corrected or updated, and what you would like to see.  Help the Alliance for Water Efficiency to improve the best water efficiency resource on the web!   Please contact us with your suggestions.   Thank you.