Research & Case Studies

Logan City

During the drought of the early 2000s, we conducted behavior change research in connection with administration of a city-sponsored but university-delivered residential landscape irrigation evaluation program.

This longitudinal study was conducted with 2004 water check volunteers and 2005 water check participants recruited based upon high past water use. Researchers interviewed and did a follow-up survey with recipients of water checks, and monitored people’s water use from 2002 through 2007. This study confirmed that conserving water on residential landscapes is challenging and requires a holistic understanding of the interaction between environmental (ETo, soils), biological (plants), technical (irrigation systems), and human behavior components in dynamic and changing urban environments. A key finding was that water users need site specific and timely information to fully support their water conservation efforts and learning process.

WaterMAPS™ researchers further refined their landscape water assessment approach in this project. This refinement integrated water meter data with property records, weather data, and landscape classifications into one database from which site-specific Landscape Irrigation Ratios (LIRs) are calculated. The LIR is actual landscape water use derived from water meters divided by landscape water demand derived from aerial imagery, land cover classifications, and detailed analysis of seasonal water needs of types of landscape material. This approach formed the basis for the WaterMAPS™ software, which automates the process of identifying urban parcels with “capacity to conserve” water applied to their landscapes. “Capacity to conserve” is identified through categorizing LIRs on a scale of acceptable to excessive water use and finding locations where water is applied well in excess of landscape water need. LIR data was used to create conservation program evaluation and monitoring tools; the first assesses program participants’ success in achieving efficient water use, and the second allows program administrators to evaluate the effectiveness of the conservation program to achieve program goals. This important information enables program administrators to effectively and efficiently allocate conservation program efforts and budgets.

For further information, see: 

Glenn, D. T., Endter-Wada, J., Kjelgren, R., & Neale, C. M. U. (2015). Tools for evaluating and monitoring effectiveness of urban landscape water conservation interventions and programs. Landscape and Urban Planning, 139(0), 82-93. See:

Welsh, Adrian P., Christopher M.U. Neale, Joanna Endter-Wada, and Roger K. Kjelgren. 2012. 

Custom software application for analyzing urban landscape water use. In: Remote Sensing and Hydrology (ed. by C.M.U. Neale & M.H. Cosh). IAHS Publ. 352 (August 2012), ISBN 978-1-907161-27-8. See:

Welsh, Adrian. 2011. Software for Analyzing Municipal Water Data to Design Water Conservation Strategies. M.S. Project, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA. 

Glenn, Diana T. 2010. Residential Landscape Water Check Programs: Exploring a Conservation Tool. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.

Hoover, Jennie M., Diana T. Glenn, Joanna Endter-Wada, and Roger K. Kjelgren. 2006. Water Check Report and Summary: Summer 2005. Project report prepared for Logan City, September 2006. 48 pp.