million m3/yr in 1991—with no net loss in agricultural production or economic growth (Biswas et al., 1997)—indicates what can be accomplished in the way of demand moderation. In practice, demand for water can be influenced by conservation measures in urban, agricultural, and industrial sectors, and by economic (pricing) policies. It is important to recognize that, while demand management efforts may economize on water effectively, they are also rarely costless. In this section, a number of demand-management policies are described and discussed in light of the committee's five evaluation criteria (see Chapter 3 for a full statement of the criteria).


Given the inevitability of population growth, it is imperative that per capita consumption of water in the study area be addressed through conservation measures in all three major sectors of water use: urban, agricultural, and industrial. There are significant disparities in per capita water use within the study area, and there will doubtless be pressures to raise the lowest consumption rates to parity with the highest rates. However, some middle ground must be reached to bring quality of life and economic development into balance within the practical constraints imposed by the region's available water. This balance requires lowering the study area's capita water use without significantly degrading the economy or standard of living, and at the same time improving the economy, hygienic conditions, and standard of living among Jordanians and Palestinians.

Conservation measures to reduce water demand are generally well established, but they often require societal or economic incentives to implement. Although some conservation measures are costly, most compare favorably with measures to increase water supplies. Moreover, water conservation measures invariably have a positive effect on water quality and the environment, if only by minimizing the impacts on freshwater resources and the volumes of wastewater generated by human activities.


In urban and rural-domestic sectors elsewhere, notably the United States, conservation measures are most effective when they have broad public support. Important voluntary domestic water conservation measures include the following:

  • Limiting toilet flushing.
  • Adopting water-saving plumbing fixtures, such as toilets and shower heads.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement