Title

Evaluating Water Conservation and Reuse Policies Using a Dynamic Water Balance Model

Document Type

Article

Abstract

A dynamic water balance model is created to examine the effects of different water conservation policies and recycled water use on water demand and supply in a region faced with water shortages and significant population growth, the Las Vegas Valley (LVV). The model, developed using system dynamics approach, includes an unusual component of the water system, return flow credits, where credits are accrued for returning treated wastewater to the water supply source. In LVV, Lake Mead serves as, both the drinking water source and the receiving body for treated wastewater. LVV has a consumptive use allocation from Lake Mead but return flow credits allow the water agency to pull out additional water equal to the amount returned as treated wastewater. This backdrop results in a scenario in which conservation may cause a decline in the available water supply. Current water use in LVV is 945 lpcd (250 gpcd), which the water agency aims to reduce to 752 lpcd (199 gpcd) by 2035, mainly through water conservation. Different conservation policies focused on indoor and outdoor water use, along with different population growth scenarios, are modeled for their effects on the water demand and supply. Major contribution of this study is in highlighting the importance of outdoor water conservation and the effectiveness of reducing population growth rate in addressing the future water shortages. The water agency target to decrease consumption, if met completely through outdoor conservation, coupled with lower population growth rate, can potentially satisfy the Valley's water demands through 2035.

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