Colorado Basin Incentive-Based Urban Water Policies: Review and Evaluation

Bonnie G. Colby, Hannah Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Major cities located in the Colorado River Basin (CRB) rely on incentive-based policies to address water use and supply reliability challenges, through programs provided by cities themselves, by state and federal agencies, and by NGOs. This review examines water use trends across cities, the phenomena of declining per capita use, and finds that most large cities have adopted municipal rate structures designed to incentivize lower use. A number of urban areas provide incentives to use gray water and effluent for outdoor use and to harvest rainwater. Incentive-based programs to protect watershed health have become a water supply strategy implemented through programs and partnerships across the CRB. The paper concludes by reviewing the ways that incentive-based urban water policies are being evaluated, and by providing guidelines for designing and evaluating programs to reduce urban use and protect watersheds that provide urban supplies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1098-1115
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • per capita use
  • rate structures
  • urban water
  • watershed health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Colorado Basin Incentive-Based Urban Water Policies: Review and Evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this