Future land-use related water demand in California

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Wilson, Tamara S., Benjamin M. Sleeter, and D. Richard Cameron
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Water shortages in California are a growing concern amidst ongoing drought, earlier spring snowmelt, projected future climate warming, and currently mandated water use restrictions. Increases in population and land use in coming decades will place additional pressure on already limited available water supplies. We used a state-and-transition simulation model to project future changes in developed (municipal and industrial) and agricultural land use to estimate associated water use demand from 2012 to 2062. Under current efficiency rates, total water use was projected to increase 1.8 billion cubic meters (+4.1%) driven primarily by urbanization and shifts to more water intensive crops. Only if currently mandated 25% reductions in municipal water use are continuously implemented would water demand in 2062 balance to water use levels in 2012. This is the first modeling effort of its kind to examine regional land-use related water demand incorporating historical trends of both developed and agricultural land uses.


Wilson, Tamara S., Benjamin M. Sleeter, and D. Richard Cameron. 2016. “Future Land-Use Related Water Demand in California.” Environmental Research Letters 11 (5): 054018. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054018.