Municipal water consumption forecast accuracy
Water Resources Research
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Municipal water consumption planning is an active area of research because of infrastructure construction and maintenance costs, supply constraints, and water quality assurance. In spite of that, relatively few water forecast accuracy assessments have been completed to date, although some internal documentation may exist as part of the proprietary "grey literature." This study utilizes a data set of previously published municipal consumption forecasts to partially fill that gap in the empirical water economics literature. Previously published municipal water econometric forecasts for three public utilities are examined for predictive accuracy against two random walk benchmarks commonly used in regional analyses. Descriptive metrics used to quantify forecast accuracy include root-mean-square error and Theil inequality statistics. Formal statistical assessments are completed using four-pronged error differential regression F tests. Similar to studies for other metropolitan econometric forecasts in areas with similar demographic and labor market characteristics, model predictive performances for the municipal water aggregates in this effort are mixed for each of the municipalities included in the sample. Given the competitiveness of the benchmarks, analysts should employ care when utilizing econometric forecasts of municipal water consumption for planning purposes, comparing them to recent historical observations and trends to insure reliability. Comparative results using data from other markets, including regions facing differing labor and demographic conditions, would also be helpful. Copyright © 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.