Drivers of variability in public‐supply water use across the contiguous United States

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



This study explores the relationship between municipal water use and an array of climate, economic, behavioral, and policy variables across the contiguous U.S. The relationship is explored using Bayesian‐hierarchical regression models for over 2,500 counties, 18 covariates, and three higher‐level grouping variables. Additionally, a second analysis is included for 83 cities where water price and water conservation policy information is available. A hierarchical model using the nine climate regions (product of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) as the higher‐level groups results in the best out‐of‐sample performance, as estimated by the Widely Available Information Criterion, compared to counties grouped by urban continuum classification or primary economic activity. The regression coefficients indicate that the controls on water use are not uniform across the nation: e.g., counties in the Northeast and Northwest climate regions are more sensitive to social variables, whereas counties in the Southwest and East North Central climate regions are more sensitive to environmental variables. For the national city‐level model, it appears that arid cities with a high cost of living and relatively low water bills sell more water per customer, but as with the county‐level model, the effect of each variable depends heavily on where a city is located.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Drivers of variability in public‐supply water use across the contiguous United States
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1002/2017WR021268
Volume 54
Issue 3
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description 22 p.
First page 1868
Last page 1889
Country United States
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