EKI has been assisting water agencies across California with drought response planning in response to the Governor’s Executive Orders and 2015 UWMP requirements. As a part of these efforts, EKI has developed an Excel-based spreadsheet model to help agencies identify water savings opportunities, by customer sector and major end-use, and to quantify and compare the potential water savings benefits of implementing various suites of drought response actions. Known as the Drought Response Tool, or “DRT,” EKI’s model is easily customized for use by a single agency or a group of agencies for various drought-related applications.
Using basic inputs that mirror the data that water agencies are now required to submit monthly to the SWRCB, the DRT’s algorithims parse the data by sector and major end use. A customized “Water use Profile” is developed for each agency that allows the user to identify water use patterns and potential opportunities for water savings.
The DRT allows an agency to quantitatively estimate the water savings benefits of the current passive and active conservation programs already in place. The DRT also contains an extensive and customized list of locally-applicable drought response actions and default water savings estimates – grouped by sector and end use – that an agency can use or modify to design an effective drought response plan.
The DRT estimates and presents projected water savings by month and cumulatively so an agency can assess if their drought response plan design has the potential to achieve the desired water savings. Then, as an agency implements its selected drought response actions, the DRT allows an agency to track its progress with respect to the conservation target.
In short, the DRT:
- Helps agencies evaluate how water is being used in their service area, so that each agency can design an effective drought response plan that targets specific sectors and end uses to meet the savings objectives in a way that reflects local water use patterns and principles.
- Requires a set of simple inputs, consistent with data that water agencies already collect and report.
- Presents the data in a clear, user-friendly manner that can be used to communicate information to managers, the public and elected officials.
- Allows an agency to quantitatively design drought response plans based on local knowledge, and provides full control over simulated water savings and implementation rates.
- Provides default values and assumptions for water savings and program implementation rates, based on available information for an agency and/or published values.
EKI works with individual or groups of water agencies to customize the DRT based on the project objectives and available data. The DRT can be designed to provide a framework for response to the current drought by incorporating the SWRCB conservation targets and mandatory water use prohibitions. Alternately, the DRT can be more broadly designed to support the development of 2015 UWMP Water Shortage Contingency Plans, specifying the various Stages of Action and Water Use Reduction Goals.
The DRT includes imbedded instructions, tips, and data validation checks to aid data entry accuracy. Use of the DRT is also supported by a user’s guide, an electronic version of which is available on EKI’s website.
California Water Code Section 10632(a) requires urban water suppliers to develop a Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP) as part of their UWMPs that lays out the actions the supplier will take in response to water supply shortages of up to 50 percent. The severity of this current drought has emphasized the need for robust and quantitative drought response planning.
The DRT can be a valuable tool to help agencies quantitatively develop WSCPs and to respond to a drought once it has begun. EKI can work with your agency to use the DRT to support the 2015 update to your WSCP. Typically, EKI works with its clients to implement the following tasks as a part of WSCP development:
- Prepare a Work Plan to develop a WSCP that reflects the interests of the Agency, its Governing Body, the Customers, and the available budget, data and schedule;
- Engage the public in the WSCP planning and development process through development of a Task Force, regular public meetings, or other mechanisms;
- Identify the laws, goals and principles that will govern the development of the WSCP and that reflect the interests of the Agency, its Governing Body, and the Customers;
- Determine water supply availability and the triggers for the declaration of a water shortage emergency, potentially including the establishment of a Level of Service goal;
- Define the Stages of Action (i.e., the classification a shortage event into one of five levels, up to a reduction of 50 percent);
- Develop a water allocation methodology using the DRT that will allow for evaluation of different water allocation methodologies and assess, for each Stage of Action, what the impact would be on water use and revenue on both a system-wide scale, and disaggregated based on customer type and even geographic areas;
- Analyze consumption reduction methods (i.e., the demand reduction measures, communications actions, and operating actions that the Agency and/or Customers must take to achieve the stated water reduction goals for each Stage of Action) using the DRT;
- Summarize enforcement and appeals procedures that the Agency would follow with respect to its Customers in the event of a water shortage;
- Develop a WSCP Implementation Plan that includes specific Agency and/or Customer actions and includes the approximate lead time needed to activate the different elements of a demand reduction program (e.g., the application of drought rates, and more frequent billing which requires additional personnel and billing system flexibility); and
- Prepare a WSCP and Template Water Shortage Ordinance.
For more information on the DRT and/or Water Shortage Contingency Planning, please contact Anona Dutton and see Surviving This Drought and Preparing for the Next One: What Are Your Options? and Is Your Water Shortage Contingency Plan Robust Enough to Support You Through This Drought?.