Date of Award:

12-2010

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Advisor/Chair:

Joanna Endter-Wada

Abstract

In response to drought and regional growth in the arid western United States, urban water demand management is increasingly important. Single family residences use approximately 60% of their water consumption to irrigate landscapes often in excess of plant water requirements. This study utilized a quasi-experimental design to investigate outdoor water consumption and assess the effectiveness of a landscape water check conservation program. Study objectives included describing a contextualized landscape system to reveal variables influencing water use, identifying better ways to evaluate landscape water use, and more effectively targeting and delivering water conservation programs.

The study was conducted during the 2004 and 2005 irrigation seasons in Logan City, Utah, in connection with a city-sponsored water check program. In Utah's sixth year of drought, free water checks were offered to all city households and delivered to 148 self-selected volunteers (2004) and 101 recruits from a target sample of above-average water users (2005). The site-specific approach incorporated landscape water checks to inspect residential landscapes, historical ETo data to create irrigation water schedules, survey data to assess water conservation behavior and the effectiveness of a water check program as a conservation tool, remote sensing data to develop household water budgets, and city water billing records to evaluate water consumption during a six-year period (2002 - 2007).

The data analysis informed creation of a conceptual framework of the residential landscape system that describes the complex systems thinking required to use water effectively. Water use case studies illustrate the interplay of system domains; site, plant material, irrigation technology, and behavior. Several assessment and monitoring tools were developed to aid in data analysis, which include the Urban Landscape Water Index and Conservation Outcomes Assessment and Intervention Evaluation Tools. Key research findings reveal the influence of sprinkler system controllers, adoption of recommended water schedule and conservation measures, and residential mobility on subsequent water use.

Research findings shed light on the complex and contextualized nature of water use in relation to residential landscapes and on methodological issues involved in evaluating conservation program effectiveness. These findings have important implications for the design and implementation of outdoor water conservation programs.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on January 19, 2011.