Published: July 15, 2000

A Guide to Data and Methods for Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Urban Water Conservation Best Management Practices


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Introduction 1.1 Purpose and Caveats

The California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC) is charged with implementing The Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Urban Water Conservation in California (MOU). To this aim, CUWCC developed and published its “Guidelines to Conduct Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Urban Water Conservation Best Management Practices,” in 1996, which we hereafter refer to as the “CEA Guidelines”.1 CUWCC’s Measurement and Evaluation Committee commissioned this report to extend the previous efforts at developing methods and data to enact the economic analysis provisions of the MOU.

What this document attempts to do:

  • Supplement CUWCC’s existing CEA Guidelines by explicitly linking conservation program costs and water savings to the MOU’s set of Best Management Practices (BMPs).
  • Identify and summarize the best available information about program costs and water savings.
  • Assess the reliability and generalizability of information currently available for quantifying and valuing conservation activity and for preparing cost-effectiveness exemption claims.
  • Identify the absence of, and note critical deficiencies in, cost and savings estimates needed to quantify and to gauge the cost-effectiveness of specific BMPs.

What this document does not do:

  • Provide or endorse the use of single, uniform estimates of programs costs and water savings. Differences in each agency’s service area characteristics preclude a ‘cookbook’ approach to calculating the costs and the effectiveness of conservation programs.
  • Pretend to provide definitive or complete estimates. Indeed, a conscious effort has been made to highlight the limitations of currently available estimates of program costs and water savings.
  • Repeat material already covered in the companion CEA Guidelines.
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