Environmental Management

, Volume 60, Issue 5, pp 867–881 | Cite as

Accelerating the Integration of Distributed Water Solutions: A Conceptual Financing Model from the Electricity Sector

  • Kimberly J. QuesnelEmail author
  • Newsha K. Ajami
  • Noemi Wyss


Modern challenges require new approaches to urban water management. One solution in the portfolio of potential strategies is the integration of distributed water infrastructure, practices, and technologies into existing systems. However, many practical barriers have prevented the widespread adoption of these systems in the US. The objective of this paper is to address these challenges by developing a conceptual model encompassing regulatory, financial, and governance components that can be used to incorporate new distributed water solutions into our current network. To construct the model, case studies of successfully implemented distributed electricity systems, specifically energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, were examined to determine how these solutions have become prominent in recent years and what lessons can be applied to the water sector in a similar pursuit. The proposed model includes four action-oriented elements: catalyzing change, establishing funding sources, using resource pathways, and creating innovative governance structures. As illustrated in the model, the water sector should use suite of coordinated policies to promote change, engage end users through fiscal incentives, and encourage research, development and dissemination of new technologies over time.


Distributed systems Financing Governance Water policy 



We would like to acknowledge the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt) (Award No. EEC-1028968) for providing financial support for this work. We appreciate the editorial board and an anonymous reviewer whose comments improved the quality of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.ReNUWIt Engineering Research CenterStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Woods Institute for the EnvironmentStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Department of Planning, Policy, and Design, 300 Social Ecology IUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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