Hjelmstad, A., Garcia, M., & Larson, K. (2019). Effect of Drought Policies on Los Angeles Water Demand. World Environmental and Water Resources Congress.


From 2007 to 2017, the state of California experienced two major droughts that required significant governmental action to decrease urban water demand. The purpose of this study is to isolate and explore the effects of these policy changes on water use during and after these droughts, and to see how these policies interact with hydroclimatic variability. The results of the city level water demand models indicate that implementation of mandatory policies that target water use behaviors effectively reduce water use. The findings suggest that drought-related policies impact per capita urban water use along with temperature, income, unemployment, and water stress. The mathematically significant relationships identified in this study offer a path forward for more complex water demand models to include policy changes as a driver of water use. The policy coding methodology offers a start to the complicated task of categorizing drought policies and identifying what qualities make them effective at reducing urban water use.