Conservation rates: The best ‘new’ source of urban water during drought

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In the United States, water conservation-oriented rates (WCOR) are an increasingly vital tool for promoting water conservation and mitigating urban drought. Our models prove that one type of WCOR, drought demand rates (DDR), can produce with minimal regulation the quadruple objectives of conservation rates: (1) improving efficiency; (2) providing revenue neutrality; (3) assuring distributional equity and (4) guaranteeing the conservation of water. We demonstrate that such rates can also reduce days that urban streams drop below ‘critical flow’ levels, providing a voice for nature. Our study is situated in northern New Castle County (NCC), Delaware (DE), USA, and the lessons garnered have relevance for industrialized communities seeking a ‘soft-path’ to drought mitigation.


Critical stream flows; Demand-side management; Drought; Environmental justice; Metropolitan areas; Streamflow; Sustainable development; Sustainable urban development; Urban; Water conservation; Water – Rates – Environmental aspects; Water supply; United States


Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources and Conservation | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning | Water Resource Management


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