Research & Case Studies

    Research & Case Studies

    Research Overview & Backgrounddemonstration gardenThe 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) 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.

    Glenn, Diana, Joanna Endter-Wada, Roger K. Kjelgren, and Christopher M.U. Neale. 2015. Tools for Evaluating and Monitoring Effectiveness of Urban Landscape Water Conservation Interventions and Programs. Landscape and Urban Planning 139:82-93.            

    Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615000547

    Endter-Wada, Joanna, 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.

    Link: http://works.bepress.com/joanna_endterwada/55/

    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.

    Link: http://works.bepress.com/joanna_endterwada/73/

    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]

    Link: http://onlinedigitalpublishing.com/publication/?i=86475

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

    Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2559450

    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.

    Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00486.x/abstract

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

    Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2235609

    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.

    Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2008.00190.x/pdf

    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.

    Link: http://lj.uwpress.org/content/27/1/127.abstract

    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.

             Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b1536892

    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.

                 Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b1179821

    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.

                 Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2831214

    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.

    Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2856765

    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.

                 Link: https://works.bepress.com/joanna_endterwada/85/

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

                 Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2639743

    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 other professional and public presentations that have been made on this research work is available on request.

    Current Projects

    The practical utility of the WaterMAPS™ approach is being tested and demonstrated in research projects with several new partners:

    Salt Lake City

    Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLCDPU) has partnered with CWEL on several pilot projects designed to connect CWEL’s Water Check and WaterMAPS™ programs. SLCDPU seeks to expand those efforts and use WaterMAPS™ assessment to provide the analytic and scientific foundation for projects designed to: 1) direct conservation efforts to the locations with the greatest capacity to conserve; 2) individualize customer feedback through a variety of data analytics; 3) track water use over time and customize information provision based on water use profiles at metered locations; and, 4) document conservation program effectiveness in terms of water saved and explanatory factors for efficiency gains.

    Eagle Mountain City

    Eagle Mountain City is partnering with CWEL and USU Extension to develop several customized applications of its water conservation programs for use in their city. The WaterMAPS™ Team will provide the city with baseline water consumption analyses and work with the Water Check Program to direct those services to the locations with the greatest capacity to conserve water applied to landscapes. Baseline analyses will help Eagle Mountain City assess, deliver and track the effectiveness of various conservation efforts it intends to undertake. See here for more information. 

     

    Past Projects

     

    Weber Basin Water Conservancy

    Weber Basin Water Conservancy District

    Innovations in this study included conducting analyses and providing monthly Secondary Water Use Reports generated by WaterMAPS™ in a residential meter implementation project. 

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    The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District (District) and Utah State University study titled “Water User Dimensions of Meter Implementation on Secondary Pressurized Irrigation Systems” was conducted with funding provided by the Bureau of Reclamation. This study was the first time WaterMAPS™ software was used to produce site-specific monthly water use reports that provided water users with information on the amount of water used, an estimate of their landscape’s water need, historical and current weather data, and a graph that compared their actual water use to their estimated need for the irrigation season. The approach provided timely and actionable information that allowed water users to make changes and adjustments in their watering practices over the course of the irrigation season, as well as monitor and reinforce the effect of their conservation actions.

    This 2011-2012 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 three 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 the District is not currently using metered data for billing purposes, this was a rare opportunity to test educational approaches to promote voluntary accountability and efficiency without using price signals that often incur public resistance.

    Since 2012, the District has continued to provide water use reports to residents at locations where secondary water meters have been installed. This conservation project has been highly successful in reducing secondary water use.

    For further information, see:

    Weber Basin Water Conservancy District:

    Meter Project: http://www.weberbasin.com/index.php/secondary/meter-project

    Secondary Water Metering  - presentation: http://www.weberbasin.com/index.php/secondary/metering-presentation

    Utah State University’s technical report: 

    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: http://works.bepress.com/joanna_endterwada/55/

    Logan City

    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.

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    This longitudinal study was conducted in 2004 with water check volunteers and in 2005 with water check participants recruited based upon estimates of high past landscape 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 behavioral (different residential households) 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) were calculated. The LIR is actual landscape water use derived from water meters (with adjustments to account for indoor use) 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 personnel efforts and budgets.

    For further information, see: 

    Glenn, Diana, Joanna Endter-Wada, Roger K. Kjelgren, and Christopher M.U. Neale. 2015. Tools for Evaluating and Monitoring Effectiveness of Urban Landscape Water Conservation Interventions and Programs. Landscape and Urban Planning 139:82-93. Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615000547

    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. Link: http://works.bepress.com/joanna_endterwada/73/

    Welsh, Adrian. 2011. Software for Analyzing Municipal Water Data to Design Water Conservation Strategies. M.S. Project, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.  Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2559450

    Glenn, Diana T. 2010. Residential Landscape Water Check Programs: Exploring a Conservation Tool. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.  Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2235609

    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.

    Granite School DistrictGranite School District

    A three-year, quasi-experimental behavior change project was conducted with custodians of a large urban school district to analyze landscape water use in an institutional setting. WaterMAPS™ researchers used their environmental-biological threshold assessment approach in this project.

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    The experimental design incorporated controls for the two types of irrigation systems (manual and automated) and for four different types of conservation interventions. Interviews and water diaries were used to gather data on the watering behaviors and challenges faced by custodians managing landscape irrigation at different types of schools. Research results revealed that the effectiveness of conservation interventions depended on the contexts in which they were applied, and interventions were more effective when they led to situational problem solving that integrated general scientific and technical knowledge with experiential knowledge. 

    For further information, see: 

    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. Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00486.x/abstract

    Kilgren, Douglas C. 2001. Implementing Water Conservation in an Institutional Setting. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA.  Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2639743

    Layton CityLayton City

    This case study focused on landscape water use of households and businesses in an urban community of Utah’s Wasatch Front Metropolitan Area.

    Learn More

    This case study focused on landscape water use of households and businesses in an urban community of Utah’s Wasatch Front Metropolitan Area. Conducted under a USDA CSREES National Research Initiative Grant from 1998-2002, this research was the earliest effort of the WaterMAPS™ team to apply their analytic techniques to assessing urban landscape water use. This project integrated airborne multispectral digital imagery, Layton City parcel boundary and water billing data, weather information, and interview and survey data to analyze residential and business landscape water use patterns. A threshold approach was used that was later refined into the Landscape Irrigation Ratio (LIR) concept. The threshold approach was based upon categorizing depth of irrigation water use (derived from water meter readings) and landscape water demand (environmental and biological estimates of water needed for a landscape to remain healthy, derived from evapotranspiration rate or ETo and modified by expected plant water use). These calculations were used to establish upper and lower thresholds on landscape water use based on assumptions that were more and less generous for calculating the appropriateness of seasonal landscape water use. This research investigated both households and businesses in Layton, Utah with the aim of explaining factors that accounted for variations in landscape water use patterns. Findings indicated that type of irrigation system and whether the location was a business or residential location were the primary factors explaining variations in water use, and that wasteful watering was the result of many factors embedded in the complex context of urban landscapes.

    For further information, 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]  Link: http://onlinedigitalpublishing.com/publication/?i=86475

    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. Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2008.00190.x/pdf

    Klien, Christina. 2004. Understanding Household Water Conservation. M.S. Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA. Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b1179821

    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. Link: http://tahoe.lib.usu.edu/record=b2831214

    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.

    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.