Project B1-1: Application of the Integrated Urban Water Model to Evaluate Strategies for Urban Water Demand Reduction


Sybil Sharvelle, PhD

Colorado State University
Civil & Environmental Engineering

Water supply and demand assessment under alternative climate, land use and population scenarios is an area of great interest among urban planners and water managers. The Integrated Urban Water Model was developed for urban water demand and savings forecasting with urban water conservation and recycling practices. The purpose of the mass balance model is to allow evaluation of alternative urban water management strategies under varying climatic conditions at a municipal or regional scale.


IUWM has been deployed as an online tool and as a web service, thus enabling accessibility, ease of use and applicability at the municipal scale.

IUWM facilitates the development of urban water demand forecasts through automated retrieval of publicly available data inputs through a geographical information system (GIS) interface, thus relieving the need for manual input of data.

Indoor residential demands are forecast based on end-use at the census block level with population and household data retrieved from the United States census. Combined residential/commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) irrigation demands are forecast based on daily evapotranspiration and land cover data.

Water management strategies included in IUWM are:

  • Indoor conservation
  • Irrigation conservation
  • Graywater reuse for toilet flushing and irrigation
  • Stormwater capture and use
  • Wastewater treatment plant effluent reuse
  • Fit-for-purpose water supplies
  • Water supply diversification


  • Indoor water use separated by residential and CII (5 – 10 years duration)
  • Outdoor water use separated by residential and CII (5 – 10 years duration)
  • Shapefile for service area for which data is provided



Historical indoor and outdoor water use will be used to calibrate IUWM to the modeled city and verify forecasts of indoor and outdoor demand. This will enable estimation of baseline conditions so that scenarios of water demand reduction, population change, land use change and climate change can be evaluated.

Integrated Urban Water Model

The Integrated Urban Water Model (IUWM) is a high level planning tool that allows urban planners and water managers to consider potable water savings of indoor and outdoor conservation measures, and alternative water sources such as graywater, stormwater, and reclaimed water.

IUWM is GIS enabled and utilizes land use designations, lot size, census data, climate information, soils characteristics and allows the user to tailor scenarios of adoption of conservation measures and alternative water sources to determine the impact on potable water demands for various land use configurations.  IUWM is a mass balance model that has been developed based upon studies such as the Residential End Use Study and other well-known studies of residential use and can perform analysis from census block groups to watershed scales

IUWM has sophisticated graphing capabilities that allows the user to evaluate the impact of land use configurations, changes in climate, conservation programs and alternative water sources on water supply demands. The graphing tools can be tailored to the user’s needs and exported along with the raw data

Journal Articles

Cole, J., S. Sharvelle, D. Fourness, N. Grigg, L. Roesner, J. Haukaas (2017). Evaluation of Centralized and Decentralized Strategies for Dual Water Supply: A Case Study. ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 144(1): 05017017. Status = Published; Acknowledgement of Federal Support = Yes; Peer Reviewed = Yes.

Negahban-Azar, M., Sharvelle, S.E., Stromberger, M.E. et al. Water Air Soil Pollut (2012) 223: 4733.

Sharvelle, S., A. Dozier, M. Arabi, B. Reichel (2017). A Geospatially-Enabled Web Tool for Urban Water Demand Forecasting and Assessment of Alternative Urban Water Management Strategies. Environmental Modelling and Software, DOI: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2017.08.009. Status = Published; Acknowledgement of Federal Support = Yes; Peer Reviewed = Yes.

Updated: Sept. 2018

News Articles

Report Shows Benefits, Risks of Stormwater and Graywater” Colorado State University – SOURCE, December 2015.


Batista, Giovana das Gracas (2018) “Characterization of Urban Water Use and Performance Evaluation of Conservation Practices Using the Integrated Urban Water Model in SÃO PAULO, Brazil”, M.S. Thesis, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Wostoupal, Benjamin (2018 “Exploring water management tradeoffs in semiarid regions through conservation, institutions, and integrated modeling”, M.S. Thesis, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.


Cole, Jeanne (2018) “A Collaborative Planning Framework for Integrated Urban Water Management: A Case Study of City of Fort Collins, Colorado”, PhD Dissertation, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Related Materials

IUWM Tutorial




Colorado State University

Sybil Sharvelle, PhD – Principal Investigator

Associate Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Colorado State University
Voice: (970) 491-6081

Dr. Sharvelle has nine years of experience working on graywater projects. Her graduate studies were funded by NASA to optimize biological waste processing systems that would treat graywater with the end goal of potable reuse. The waste treatment concept employed entailed separate source collection and treatment of graywater, urine, and fecal material. Dr. Sharvelle’s experience in closed loop recycling of resources is very valuable for implementation of sustainable development concepts for urban water management. Dr. Sharvelle is currently working on sustainable urban water management including graywater reuse, reclaimed water reuse, development of models to estimate water savings associated with urban water conservation practices. Dr. Sharvelle also has several years of experience working on waste conversion to methane through anaerobic digestion.

Mostafavi_Ali_ProfileAli Mostafavi, PhD – Co-Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor
Zachary Dept. of Civil Engineering
Texas A&M University
Voice: (979) 845-4856

Dr. Mostafavi’s research interests focus on solving the challenges at the interface of the infrastructure systems, economy, environment and society. These problems are often large in scale and multidisciplinary, thereby requiring solution concepts that consider engineering and science simultaneously.  Specialties include: Infrastructure-Energy-Environment nexus analysis, Sustainability and resilience of infrastructure systems, complex system simulation, risk analysis and modeling, financial analysis and modeling, business strategy, innovation assessment, policy analysis, decision making, and construction management.

Graduate Students

Jeanne Cole, PhD Candidate – Research Scientist

Colorado State University
Civil & Environmental Engineering

Kambiz Rasoulkhani, PhD Candidate – Research Scientist

Texas A&M University
Civil  Engineering