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Embedded resource accounting with applications to water embedded in energy trade in the western U.S

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Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water

Water resource management is becoming increasingly burdened by uncertain and fluctuating conditions resulting from climate change and population growth which place increased demands on already strained resources. Innovative water management schemes are necessary to address the reality of available water supplies. One such approach is the substitution of trade in virtual water for the use of local water supplies. This study provides a review of existing work in the use of virtual water and water footprint methods. Virtual water trade has been shown to be a successful method for addressing water scarcity and decreasing overall water consumption by shifting high water consumptive processes to wetter regions. These results however assume that all water resource supplies are equivalent regardless of physical location and they do not tie directly to economic markets. In this study we introduce a new mathematical framework, Embedded Resource Accounting (ERA), which is a synthesis of several different analytical methods presently used to quantify and describe human interactions with the economy and the natural environment. We define the specifics of the ERA framework in a generic context for the analysis of embedded resource trade in a way that links directly with the economics of that trade. Acknowledging the cyclical nature of water and the abundance of actual water resources on Earth, this study addresses fresh water availability within a given region. That is to say, the quantities of fresh water supplies annually available at acceptable quality for anthropogenic uses. The results of this research provide useful tools for water resource managers and policy makers to inform decision making on, (1) reallocation of local available fresh water resources, and (2) strategic supplementation of those resources with outside fresh water resources via the import of virtual water.

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Date Created
2013

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Whiskey is for drinking - water is for fighting over: population growth, infrastructure change, and conservation policy as drivers of residential water demand

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As urban populations grow, water managers are becoming increasingly concerned about water scarcity. Water managers once relied on developing new sources of water supply to manage scarcity but economically feasible sources of unclaimed water are now rare, leading to an

As urban populations grow, water managers are becoming increasingly concerned about water scarcity. Water managers once relied on developing new sources of water supply to manage scarcity but economically feasible sources of unclaimed water are now rare, leading to an increased interest in demand side management. Water managers in Las Vegas, Nevada have developed innovative demand side management strategies due to the cities rapid urbanization and limited water supply. Three questions are addressed. First, in the developed areas of the Las Vegas Valley Water District service areas, how did vegetation area change? To quantify changes in vegetation area, the Matched Filter Vegetation Index (MFVI) is developed from Mixture Tuned Match Filtering estimates of vegetation area calibrated against vegetation area estimates from high-resolution aerial photography. In the established city core, there was a small but significant decline in vegetation area. Second, how much of the observed decline in per capita consumption can be explained by Las Vegas land cover and physical infrastructure change that resulted from extensive new construction and new use of water conserving technology, and how much can be attributed to water conservation policy choices? A regression analysis is performed, followed by an analysis of three counter-factual scenarios to decompose reductions in household water into its constituent parts. The largest citywide drivers of change in water consumption were increased water efficiency associated with new construction and rapid population growth. In the established urban core, the most significant driver was declining vegetation area. Third, water savings generated by a conservation program that provides incentives for homeowners to convert grass into desert landscaping are estimated. In the city core, 82 gallons of water are saved in June for each square meter of landscape converted in the first year after conversion, but the savings attenuate to 33 gallons per meter converted as the landscape ages. Voluntary landscape conversion programs can generate substantial water savings. The most significant result is that the most effective way to ensure long term, sustainable reductions in water consumption in a growing city without changing water prices is to support the construction of water efficient infrastructure.

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2014