Published In

Water Resources Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Municipal water supply -- Forecasting -- Statistical methods, Municipal water supply -- Management


In this paper, we use a theoretical framework of coupled human and natural systems to review the methodological advances in urban water demand modeling over the past 3 decades. The goal of this review is to quantify the capacity of increasingly complex modeling techniques to account for complex human and natural processes, uncertainty, and resilience across spatial and temporal scales. This review begins with coupled human and natural systems theory and situates urban water demand within this framework. The second section reviews urban water demand literature and summarizes methodological advances in relation to four central themes: (1) interactions within and across multiple spatial and temporal scales, (2) acknowledgment and quantification of uncertainty, (3) identification of thresholds, nonlinear system response, and the consequences for resilience, and (4) the transition from simple statistical modeling to fully integrated dynamic modeling. This review will show that increasingly effective models have resulted from technological advances in spatial science and innovations in statistical methods. These models provide unbiased, accurate estimates of the determinants of urban water demand at increasingly fine spatial and temporal resolution. Dynamic models capable of incorporating alternative future scenarios and local stochastic analysis are leading a trend away from deterministic prediction.


This is the publisher's final pdf. Originally published in Water Resources Research ( and is copyrighted by American Geophysical Union (



Persistent Identifier