The Influence of Conservation Programs on Residential Water Demand: Synthesis and Analysis for Shared Vision Planning in the Rappahannock River Basin
Cartwright, Lauren Ashley
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The Rappahannock River Basin Commission is undergoing a collaborative water supply planning process for Virginiaâ s Rappahannock River Basin. Participants in the planning process have indicated an interest in technical information about the possible impact conservation programs may have on reducing residential water demand. The potential influence of conservation programs is identified through a literature synthesis and a statistical analysis of residential water demand for a locality within the basin (Stafford County). In the literature synthesis, conservation programs are classified as voluntary or mandatory. Voluntary programs utilize financial incentives (such as water pricing and rebates) or educational incentives (such as radio ads and bill inserts) to encourage conservation, and mandatory programs utilize regulatory incentives (such as plumbing standards and bans on outdoor water use). The water demand statistical model was estimated to more specifically identify how Stafford residential water customers respond to water pricing/rate structure changes (financial incentives), imposition of federal regulations on plumbing standards (regulatory incentives), and a voluntary conservation program utilizing educational incentives. The results indicate that while many studies have found residential customers are responsive to price changes, Stafford residential water users have not significantly changed their water demand in response to price/rate structure changes. Previous literature also suggests federal plumbing standards potentially have a significant impact on water demand. The influence of new plumbing standards in the Stafford demand model was inconclusive and warrants further analysis. Consistent with the literature, voluntary conservation programs utilizing educational incentives alone did not substantially alter residential water demand in Stafford County.
- Masters Theses