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Study explores impact of climate change on water demand

October 21, 2013
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The Water Research Foundation's (WRF) latest study examines the impact of climate change on water demand and the implications for water utilities.

With the help of six member utilities, the WRF examined various climate change scenarios and water demand and usage patterns under them. These were divided into categories on the basis of customer class and industry sector, the aim being to help water utilities respond and plan better. The WRF report offers specific recommendations and highlights key regional concerns, as well as areas that need further analysis.

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The most important conclusion reached by the WRF is that climate change will vary across different U.S. regions, in magnitude as well as seasonally, executive director Rob Renner said. These changes will have a different impact on water demand due to varying geographical demand sensitivities to climate and weather. In some areas, demand could experience a minor or moderate impact but other areas may be significantly affected. Analyses such as those employed in the WRF study will be crucial for identifying the potential level of influence, Renner added.

As for recommendations, the key one is that water utilities should invest more time in exploring and modeling water demand patterns in relation to climate change. Through the use of analytical techniques, utilities will be able to understand better how climate affects water demand in relation to longer-term socioeconomic factors. They will also gain a better insight into the influence of actual weather on shorter-term demand variability, Renner noted.

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