What is it about?

Climate change and urbanization are depleting water resources. Over time, cities have focused on increasing the supply of water to meet their growing needs. This has been possible using water consumption tools or models to forecast a city's water needs. However, most of these models make weak predictions as they do not account for cultural and social aspects within a city. In this study, the authors present and validate a new model to better interpret water use across a city. The model is based on a ‘mixed approach’ that combines social norms data along with climate and demographic factors. Modeling water use during the testing phase from a test city produced accurate results across different seasons.

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Why is it important?

Most water consumption models are unable to capture fine details for water utility. This is because they focus on large areas (cities or geographic regions) and do not consider small-scale factors. Moreover, they rely mostly on climate and demographic (age, gender, and income) data, and do not focus on the cultural aspects. The model proposed in this study helps us understand how water can be consumed in an efficient way at the residential level. People living in a city are known to use water differently. This usage is largely affected by awareness. For example, greater awareness about a shortage can lead to water conservation. Similarly, feedback on water use can influence how people use water in the future. This makes the inclusion of social norms crucial in local water management plans. KEY TAKEAWAY: This study shows the value of including cultural and social norms in water consumption models. Doing so can improve the interpretation of water usage and can help save water resources across cities. This research relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals: • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production • SDG 13: Climate Action • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

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This page is a summary of: Improving the Interpretation of Data-Driven Water Consumption Models via the Use of Social Norms, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, December 2022, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE),
DOI: 10.1061/(asce)wr.1943-5452.0001611.
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