Environmental Management

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 855–864 | Cite as

Quantifying Outdoor Water Consumption of Urban Land Use/Land Cover: Sensitivity to Drought

  • Shai KaplanEmail author
  • Soe W. Myint
  • Chao Fan
  • Anthony J. Brazel


Outdoor water use is a key component in arid city water systems for achieving sustainable water use and ensuring water security. Using evapotranspiration (ET) calculations as a proxy for outdoor water consumption, the objectives of this research are to quantify outdoor water consumption of different land use and land cover types, and compare the spatio-temporal variation in water consumption between drought and wet years. An energy balance model was applied to Landsat 5 TM time series images to estimate daily and seasonal ET for the Central Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research region (CAP-LTER). Modeled ET estimations were correlated with water use data in 49 parks within CAP-LTER and showed good agreement (r 2 = 0.77), indicating model effectiveness to capture the variations across park water consumption. Seasonally, active agriculture shows high ET (>500 mm) for both wet and dry conditions, while the desert and urban land cover types experienced lower ET during drought (<300 mm). Within urban locales of CAP-LTER, xeric neighborhoods show significant differences from year to year, while mesic neighborhoods retain their ET values (400–500 mm) during drought, implying considerable use of irrigation to sustain their greenness. Considering the potentially limiting water availability of this region in the future due to large population increases and the threat of a warming and drying climate, maintaining large water-consuming, irrigated landscapes challenges sustainable practices of water conservation and the need to provide amenities of this desert area for enhancing quality of life.


Outdoor water use Evapotranspiration Drought Landsat 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant SES-0951366, Decision Center for a Desert City II: Urban Climate Adaptation and Grant and DEB-0423704, Central Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP-LTER). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shai Kaplan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Soe W. Myint
    • 1
  • Chao Fan
    • 1
  • Anthony J. Brazel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningTempeUSA

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