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TRANSP Seminar: Las Vegas’ Water Conservation Policies Save Water, But So Does Growth, Christa Brelsford

Date: Thursday, February 15

Time: 3:40 pm - 4:50 pm

Location: 327 John D. Tickle Building

 

Abstract

We identify the citywide drivers of change in residential water consumption including new construction, conservation policy incentives, vegetation area changes, changes in housing stock characteristics, and broader citywide drivers such as drought, price changes, and weather.  This analysis is performed using a decomposition analysis on neighborhood average household water consumption between 1996 and 2007, combined with remotely sensed data on vegetation area, and tax assessors data on home characteristics.  We next estimate the amount of water saved from Las Vegas’ signature water conservation program called Water Smart Landscapes (WSL) using an event study performed with data from single family water consumption records between 2000 and 2012.  Finally, we estimate the potential that a neighborhood based ‘peer effect’ increases the likelihood that the neighbors of a WSL participating home also chose to participate in this program.  This is estimated using an epidemic model, rather than a more typical hazard model in order to address the problem of correlated unobservables which can confound peer effects estimation.  We find that the single largest citywide driver of Las Vegas’ observed decline in residential water consumption is decreased water consumption in newly constructed homes, but that changes in vegetation area also contribute to a small but significant decline.  We find that WSL driven landscape conversions save about 390 gallons per meter of turf converted, and show strong evidence of the existence of a peer effect in WSL participation in several Las Vegas neighborhoods.

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