Sustainable Water Resources Management

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 1303–1313 | Cite as

Neighborhood effects on parcel-level water use

  • Philip StokerEmail author
  • Sarah Hinners
  • Douglas Jackson-Smith
  • Martin Buchert
  • Zacharia Levine
Original Article


Planning for urban water conservation requires an understanding of how and where water is used in cities. There is significant evidence that urban water use is related to the characteristics of the residents, housing types, and landscaping patterns. At the same time, a growing body of research has shown geographic clustering of high or low water use at the neighborhood scale. This paper explores how the characteristics of neighborhoods influence water use at the parcel scale. We hypothesized that neighborhood characteristics influence water use through social dynamics as well as the physical structure of the neighborhood. Using a dataset for almost 75,000 parcels across 248 neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah, we used multilevel modeling to determine how nine characteristics of neighborhoods influenced parcel-level water use. Almost a quarter (24%) of the variation in parcel-scale water use was explained by neighborhood characteristics. Controlling for key parcel-level drivers of water use, we determined that several neighborhood factors were significantly associated with parcel-level water use. For residential properties, parcels in more homogeneous suburban neighborhoods dominated by detached single family-owned homes and family households used more water than comparable parcels in neighborhoods with mixed housing and household types. Neighborhood effects were more pronounced for residential parcels than commercial, and more for outdoor than indoor water use. We suggest that planning and design strategies at the neighborhood level can contribute to urban water conservation.


Urban water use Neighborhood effect Water demand Multilevel models 



Funding was provided by National Science Foundation (Grant no. 1208732).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape ArchitectureUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of City and Metropolitan PlanningUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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