News | May 25, 2011

Water Research Foundation Announces Initiative To Update And Expand Landmark Residential End Uses Of Water Study

The Water Research Foundation (WaterRF) announced that it is updating and expanding its landmark Residential End Uses of Water Study. The original study was published in 1999, and water utilities, industry regulators and government planning agencies have considered it the industry benchmark of single-family home indoor water use. The 1999 study, Residential End Uses of Water (pdf), is available on the WaterRF website.

The goal of the three-year project, which will begin in Spring 2011 and conclude in late 2013, is to investigate water use patterns in residential housing in 28 water utilities markets in the United States and Canada. The 28 water utilities volunteered to participate in the project. The new study will expand on the 1999 report by exploring water use over a more geographically diverse area, monitoring hot water use, examining outdoor water use (e.g., for landscaping) and assessing water conservation efforts in households. The new study also will integrate data from additional reports, in order to present a more comprehensive picture of residential water use.

Under WaterRF's supervision, the study will be conducted by Aquacraft, Inc., a water engineering and management company, in collaboration with Hazen and Sawyer (an environmental engineering firm), the National Research Center, Veritec Consulting and Dr. Benedykt Dziegielewski, a professor at Southern Illinois University and a national expert on water use analysis.

The total cost of the project is $1.6M, with funding and in-kind services pooled from WaterRF, the Aquacraft research team and a number of the participating water utilities. Other participating water utilities are providing in-kind donations and contributions to the project. "There is no question that economic and environmental changes have had a significant impact on residential water use over the past decade," said Rob Renner, Executive Director of the Water Research Foundation.

"Given those changes, the time is right to assess how individuals and families use water in order to both improve the delivery of water, identify new technologies to enhance our water systems and, of course, promote water conservation."

In each market, the utility participants will provide project researchers with historic water consumption data from a representative sample of 1,000 single-family customers. In nine of the 28 markets, researchers will select 100 homes for monitoring of indoor and outdoor water use and 10 homes for examining hot water use.

The researchers also will send a water use survey to these customers. These markets are: Tacoma, WA; Toho, FL Water Authority; City of Fort Collins, CO; City of Scottsdale, AZ; Clayton County, GA Water Authority; Denver, CO Water; Region of Peel, Ontario, Canada; Region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; and San Antonio, TX Water System.

In the remaining 19 markets, researchers will survey 5,000 customers on indoor water use. These markets are: Portland, OR Water Bureau; Tampa Bay, FL Water; Aurora, CO Water; Austin, TX Water Utility; City of Chicago, IL; City of Henderson, NV; City of Mountain View, CA; City of San Diego, CA; City of Santa Barbara, CA; City of Santa Fe, NM; Cobb County, GA Water System; Colorado Springs, CO Utilities; Contra Costa, CA Water District; EPCOR, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Miami-Dade, FL Water & Sewer; Otay, CA Water District; Philadelphia, PA Water Department; Regional Water Authority, CT; and Town of Cary, NC.

The updated Residential End Uses of Water Study will be published in 2013-2014. "Like the initial study, we anticipate that the new report will become a valuable collection of information that will aid water utilities in demand forecasting, planning and conservation programming," said Renner.

About the Water Research Foundation
Founded in 1966, the Water Research Foundation is an international, 501(c)3 non-profit organization that sponsors research to enable water utilities, public health agencies and other professionals to provide safe and affordable drinking water to the public. With more than 950 subscriber members who provide water to 80 percent of the U.S. population, the Water Research Foundation has funded and managed more than 1,000 projects. For more information, visit

SOURCE: The Water Research Foundation