Community and Regional Planning Program


Date of this Version

Summer 8-2-2013


Li, Y. Analysis of urban water use and urban consumptive water use in Nebraska-case study in the City of Lincoln, Grand Island and Sidney. MCRP Thesis. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2013.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the degree of Master of Community and Regional Planning, Major: Community and Regional Planning, Under the Supervision of Professor Zhenghong Tang. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Yao Li


The trends of increasing water demand and drought occurrences in Nebraska’s urban areas pose a new crucial issue to water resource management. Former studies in Nebraska mainly focused on rural water demand caused by intensive agricultural irrigation, while largely ignoring the growing municipal water use. Therefore, this thesis aims to investigate total water use and consumptive water use in three major urban land use categories of residential, CIO (commercial, industrial and others), and open space. Three case cities are City of Lincoln, Grand Island and Sidney. First, a reliable and feasible methodology of estimating consumptive water use is developed based on the analysis of end water use activities. Then, possible influential factors (e.g. population, total landscape area) are statistically examined to evaluate their effects on the amount of total and consumptive water use. Afterwards, quantity classification and spatial autocorrelation analyses are used to visually assess and quantify the spatial patterns of total and consumptive water use at the census block level, 2010.

In the three case cities, residential consumptive water use varies from 31% to 57% of total water use, and positive relationships with precipitation and aridity are identified. CIO consumptive water use percentage ranges from 19% to 27%. Open space consumptive water use is nearly equal to the open space total water use. Census block level linear models are identified between influential factors and amount of water use, which has been rarely applied by previous research. First, the best predictors of residential total water use area population and total landscape area in three case cities. A positive correlation between residential consumptive water use and total landscape area is identified in the Sidney while similar relationship is not found in the other two cities. Second, there is no linear regression relationship identified between CIO total water use/consumptive water use and available independent variables in this study. Third, both open space total water use and consumptive water use can be positively related to total landscape area. Spatially, high water use blocks are commonly clustered in suburban areas with larger lots and lower population densities. Low water use blocks are commonly located near downtown living areas with less yard area and higher population densities. Overall, the methodology and statistical outcome can improve the understanding of urban water supplies and uses in dissimilar urban areas across Nebraska, providing foundation for further urban water studies and integrated water management.

Adviser: Zhenghong Tang