Research & Case Studies

Research Overview & Background

The WaterMAPS™ development team began their research collaboration on water use in urban irrigated landscapes in the late 1990s. Increasing attention was being paid to outdoor water use at that time due to rapid urbanization in the western U.S. and other drought-prone regions of the world, and the need for greater urban water use efficiency. The research community had made progress assessing urban landscape water use through the filter of individual disciplines; e.g., plant science, irrigation technology, conservation behavior, and policy studies. Researchers generally concluded more interdisciplinary and integrated work needed to be done to fully understand how to affect the multi-dimensional challenge (including environmental, technical, biological and human behavioral components) of understanding and influencing urban landscape water use.

The interdisciplinary work conducted by Drs. Joanna Endter-Wada (policy and social science), Roger Kjelgren (urban horticulture and native plants) and Christopher Neale (irrigation engineering and remote sensing) has focused on fulfilling these scientific and applied research needs. They began their joint research effort to provide technical assistance to Utah’s water suppliers seeking to conserve water in irrigated urban landscapes. Working together and with their students and professional staff, the primary contributions of their research collaboration are:
• technical innovations for identifying locations with “capacity to conserve” water applied to urban landscapes and tracking water conservation efforts over time, incorporated into the WaterMAPS™ software;
• research findings on people’s watering behaviors and how those behaviors are shaped by their preferences, knowledge, and experiences as well as by site-specific characteristics of their landscapes (soil properties, plant characteristics, and irrigation systems);
• program and policy recommendations about how to: provide relevant information to help people understand the water needs of their established landscapes and reduce excess water use; broaden the influence of conservation programs; and, promote transitions to greater use of low-water plant material and landscape designs.

Related Research Reports & Publications

Joanna Endter-Wada, Diana Glenn, Clayton Lewis, Roger Kjelgren, and Christopher Neale. 2013. Water User Dimensions of Meter Implementation on Secondary Pressurized Irrigation Systems. Research Report for Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and the US Bureau of Reclamation. April 2013. 75 pages. 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:

Farag, Fayek A., Christopher M.U. Neale, Roger K. Kjelgren, and Joanna Endter-Wada. 2011. Quantifying Urban Landscape Water Conservation Potential Using High Resolution Remote Sensing and GIS. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 77(11):1113-1122. [This paper received the 2012 award for ESRI Best Scientific Paper in Geographic Information Systems] See:

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

Kilgren, Douglas, Joanna Endter-Wada, Roger K. Kjelgren, and Paul G. Johnson. 2010. Implementing Landscape Water Conservation in Public School Institutional Settings: A Case for Situational Problem Solving. Journal of American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 46(6):1205-1220. See:

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

Endter-Wada, Joanna, Judith Kurtzman, Sean P. Keenan, Roger K. Kjelgren, and Christopher M.U. Neale. 2008. Situational Waste in Landscape Watering: Residential and Business Water Use in an Urban Utah Community. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 44(4):902-920. See:

Hooper, Virginia H., Joanna Endter-Wada, and Craig W. Johnson. 2008. Theory and Practice Related to Native Plants: A Case Study of Utah Landscape Professionals. Landscape Journal 27(1):127-141. See:

Guenter, Megan. 2006. The Role of Utah Garden Centers in Furthering Public Knowledge about Waterwise Plants and Landscaping. 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.

Klien, Christina. 2004. Understanding Household Water Conservation. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.

Farag, Fayek A. 2003. Estimating Farm and Landscape Water Use at the Rural-Urban Interface Using Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems. Ph.D. Dissertation, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.

Hooper, Virginia Harding. 2003. Understanding Utah’s Native Plant Market: Coordinating Public and Private Interest. M.L.A. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.

Kjelgren, Roger K., Fayek A. Farag, Christopher M.U. Neale, Joanna Endter-Wada, and Judith Kurtzman. 2002. Quantifying potential urban landscape water conservation through billing data analysis in Layton, Utah. Proceedings, American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water Sources Conference: Reuse, Resources, Conservation, January 27-31, Las Vegas, NV.

Kilgren, Douglas C. 2001. Implementing Water Conservation in an Institutional Setting. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.

Farag, Fayek A., Christopher M.U. Neale, Roger K. Kjelgren. 2001. Development of a GIS-based model to estimate landscape water demand in the urban/rural interface. In: Remote Sensing and Hydrology 2000 (ed. by M. Owe, K. Brubaker, J. Richtie & A. Rango). IAHS Publ. 267 (2001), ISBN 1-901502-46-5.

Note: A list of the professional and public presentations that have been made on this research work is available on request.