In mid-March, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation attended the Plenary Meeting of the California Urban Water Conservation Council (Council) to accept membership in the Council of over 400 urban water suppliers, environmental advocacy organizations, and water policy researchers. Formed in 1991, this collaborative forum brings together urban water suppliers, the water policy community, and environmental advocates to advance water conservation throughout the state. The Council develops innovative practices and technologies for water efficiency and conservation, encourages effective public policy decision-making, advances research, training, and public education, and builds on collaborative partnerships.
The Council’s founding Memorandum of Understanding requires urban water supplier signatories to provide detailed information about their water supply sources, water deliveries, water distribution and billing systems and implementation of water conservation rebates and incentives. This rich dataset will form an important part of current research proposals in the Luskin Center’s Smart Water Systems Initiative. Using drought and the long term impacts of climate change on the region’s water resources as a contextual lens, the Luskin Center will identify urban water agencies in Southern California that are increasingly resilient to short and long term drought conditions. The Luskin Center will also identify those agencies that are increasingly vulnerable to current and future drought conditions. As proposed, this analysis will be presented as an online web-mapping tool and database called the Southern California Water Atlas and Archive. This project will provide valuable resources for furthering water policy research initiatives, improving local water supply planning, and enhancing regional resiliency to climate change impacts.
Urban water supply signatories to the Council’s MOU are required to self-report and deliver data every two years. Many of the datasets collected before 2008 are still in hardcopy format, while all records submitted after 2008 are stored in digital format. Data collected by the Council includes information on water sources and uses, utility operations and practices, water loss control, metering, retail conservation pricing, retail wastewater rates, public information programs, rebates for residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional water customers, and landscape conservation programs.
The California Urban Water Conservation Council emerged in the mid-1990s from a growing concern for water supply reliability and the efficient use of water resources through conservation. To assist urban water agencies in achieving this goal, urban water suppliers, water policy analysts, and environmental groups created the nonprofit organization. Over several decades, the Council grew into a hub for innovative practices and policies that advance water conservation efforts statewide. Many attribute major decreases in per capita urban water usage in Southern California over the last several decades to the Council’s efforts.