Water User Dimensions of Meter Implementation on Secondary Pressurized Irrigation Systems

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Research Report for Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and the US Bureau of Reclamation

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Weber Basin Water Conservancy District (District) secured Bureau of Reclamation funding in spring 2011 to install individual secondary water meters at residential connections in order to implement water efficiency and accountability measures included in the District’s Water Conservation Plan (Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, 2010). Initially, the District will not use the meters for billing water use but, instead, will use them to help the District determine if end users are exceeding their contracted allotment of water and to promote water use accountability.

The purpose of the study titled “Water User Dimensions of Meter Implementation on Secondary Pressurized Irrigation Systems” conducted by Utah State University (USU) is to help the District implement innovative procedures for sharing meter data in formats designed to enhance users’ understandings of landscape water needs and the appropriateness of their own landscape water use. The study assessed how best to interact with water users during system transitions to ensure that metering delivers desired water efficiency and accountability results.

The study was conducted by an interdisciplinary research team from USU’s Department of Environment and Society in the Quinney College of Natural Resources, Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate in the College of Agriculture, and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. The USU researchers are affiliated with the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station (UAES) located at USU and they collaborate with USU Extension through the Center for Water Efficient Landscaping (CWEL).

The study focused on monitoring people’s secondary water use and analyzing people’s perceptions and behaviors as individual meters were installed on residential secondary systems in two areas where the District delivers secondary landscape water. The study analyzed human aspects related to technological change to see whether and how these aspects contribute or detract from achieving the desired outcome of greater water use efficiency. Particular attention was paid to the role that information based on metered data played in promoting water user accountability. Since initially metered data will not be used for billing purposes, this was a rare opportunity to test various ways to implement accountability and efficiency without using price signals that often incur public resistance.

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