Date of Award:

8-2020

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Joanna Endter-Wada

Committee

Joanna Endter-Wada

Committee

Larry Rupp

Committee

Kelly Kopp

Committee

Lisa Welsh

Abstract

Policies and programs have been utilized throughout the United States (U.S.) to reduce water use as a strategy to ensure sufficient water supplies for future demand. As governmental leaders and policy makers face increasing freshwater scarcity and supply unpredictability, along with rising costs and decreased federal funding, Best Practices (BPs) in water conservation are increasingly important to facilitate decision-making in choosing which strategies to employ. This project uses policy analysis to review and summarize various BPs, referencing both academic and professional literature. National fixture efficiency standards enacted in 1992 are credited as among the leading factors reducing indoor water use across the nation in both areas with ample and scarce amounts of water. Since significant strides have already been achieved in reducing indoor water use, this project focuses on outdoor (landscape) water conservation approaches since they are of particular importance in arid regions. We conducted a preliminary literature and guidebook review to determine which BPs were most commonly recommended and had the most supporting evidence for their effectiveness. The most comprehensive list of recommendations was provided by Colorado WaterWise and Aquacraft, Inc.’s The Guidebook of Best Practices for Municipal Water Conservation in Colorado –Technical Guide (2010). We evaluated Colorado WaterWise and Aquacraft, Inc.(2010) along with more primary and secondary data sources (i.e., municipal codes, case studies, journal articles, best practice manuals from the industry). We evaluated implementation challenges for the Utah context through the lens of Schneider and Ingram’s (1997) policy design theory, where they recognize that “policy must serve multiple goals of solving problems, reflecting interests, being accountable, serving justice and engaging and enlightening citizens” (p. xi) and that it also needs to be well contextualized. We provide information relevant to all Utah communities, but distinguish information of particular relevance to Eagle Mountain City, Utah, which is one of the fastest growing communities in the USA. Eagle Mountain City represents current Utah urban expansion into areas previously not settled due to lack of water, and has unique opportunities to implement water-smart infrastructure in the construction phase of development. We found that strategies deployed throughout the United States can have varying results, and lack of empirical data documenting implementation and results can inhibit BP analysis and improvement. We recommend that policy and program implementers should more explicitly define goals, document societal outcomes, and analyze results for effective evaluation and transferability of lessons learned between municipalities. We further recommend that BPs targeting the correct design, installation, and maintenance of landscapes and irrigation systems be utilized, since such policies could be the outdoor equivalent of the 1992 efficiency standards that were instrumental in reducing indoor water use across the nation.

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