Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Paul Lander

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Deserai Crow


This thesis looks at water management strategies for conservation of residential water use in the midst of drought, and the effectiveness of these strategies. There is a lot to be learned from past mistakes and successes in the way that water managers and states approach the problem of drought. Water is a vital resource that needs to be properly handled, and the current drought in California is leaving many districts struggling to find ways to conserve water. In this document three districts are looked at, two in California (Western Municipal Water District in southern California and East Bay Municipal Water District in northern California) and one in Colorado (Denver Water). Denver Water’s management plan saw success during their early 2000’s drought, and much can be learned from the comparison of these districts. In order to see what their plans were and how effective they were, water use patterns are analyzed as well as policies implemented by the districts. Their budgets were also looked at to see if there were any significant changes because of drought. Many similarities were seen between the districts, such as strict lawn watering hours, surcharges, and rebates for efficient appliances. For Western Municipal Water District of southern California, their flexibility in terms of supply helped them to be less water stressed, but their reductions did not meet state mandated goals. East Bay MUD saw the highest reduction and had the most success in lowering water use. This may be attributed to their successful lawn conversion program as well as the willingness of constituents to conserve—possibly due to the competition imposed on them. Denver Water had a huge advertising campaign that helped get the word out about conservation, and their lawn watering restrictions were very successful. Reducing water consumption in residential areas has many factors to it, and monitoring drought is extremely difficult.