This paper describes recent experience with integrated resource planning (IRP) and the application of least cost planning (LCP) for the evaluation of demand management strategies in urban water. Two Australian case studies, Sydney and Northern New South Wales (NSW) are used in illustration. LCP can determine the most cost effective means of providing water services or alternatively the cheapest forms of water conservation. LCP contrasts to a traditional approach of evaluation which looks only at means of increasing supply. Detailed investigation of water usage, known as end-use analysis, is required for LCP. End-use analysis allows both rigorous demand forecasting, and the development and evaluation of conservation strategies. Strategies include education campaigns, increasing water use efficiency and promoting wastewater reuse or rainwater tanks. The optimal mix of conservation strategies and conventional capacity expansion is identified based on levelised unit cost. IRP uses LCP in the iterative process, evaluating and assessing options, investing in selected options, measuring the results, and then re-evaluating options. Key to this process is the design of cost effective demand management programs. IRP however includes a range of parameters beyond least economic cost in the planning process and program designs, including uncertainty, benefit partitioning and implementation considerations.

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