Water use patterns : examining the impact of population density on municipal drought response
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Texas is urbanizing at a rapid rate with municipal water needs constituting a growing portion of total demand on the state’s resources in the next fifty years. Geographic challenges contributing to frequent, severe droughts have driven a long history of water planning to balance these competing demands with unpredictable supplies. This report seeks to examine patterns in municipal water use to identify whether increasing population density impacts responses to drought conditions. It details the historical impact of drought on Texas water law and Texas’ historical use of water in municipal settings, discussing historical and recent trends. Shifts in population from majority rural to majority urban are examined to identify whether behavioral responses to drought differ between urban and rural populations. This is done through the creation of a water demand regression model containing variables such as water price, rainfall totals, drought conditions, population density, median income, and per capita water use for five Texas cities over twenty years. Ultimately, this analysis concludes that much of the variation in per capita water use was due to changes in time, although water price, rainfall, and population density were significant variables. As water use data collection improves and is conducted on an ever-more individualized scale, future analyses may identify a stronger relationship between population density and drought response.