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The Decrease Of Domestic Water Consumption In The Coast Of Alicante (spain) 2000-2013: Study About The Different Urban Typologies

Congress: 2015


Keyword(s): Sub-theme 1: Water supply and demand,


The coast of Alicante has been changed since the 1960s and 1970s due to the tourist activity (Baños, 2014; Vera 2005; 2006). These changes are related with the increase of number of houses and the arrival of foreign people from the centre and north of Europe. In association with the tourist activity, there are important impacts on the demand of water (March et al., 2014; Rico, 2007; Rico et al., 2009; 2013). This demand has been increased since the 1960s and 1970s with a maximum in the early of the decade of 2000 (Saurí, 2013). The aim of this study is to analyze the evolution of domestic water consumption between 2000-2013 and the causes of the decrease of this demand water consumption between different urban typologies.

Methods and materials

For this study, it is used real data about the water consumption. These data have been provided for the company which supplied water in the major part of municipalities of the coast of Alicante (Hidraqua, Gestión Integral de Aguas de Levante S.A.). The cities analyzed have been Alicante, Benidorm and Torrevieja. These cities are characterized by its important number of residents and for its tourist activity. In the case of Alicante, it is the capital of the province. Benidorm is important for its hotel supply and the number of blocks of apartments. Thirdly, Torrevieja is characterizing for the number of secondary houses and seasonal population. The company provided the total data compsumtion by town between 2000-2013. In order to analyze the consumption between the different urban typologies, the company provided anonymous data for these urban typologies between 2005-2013. It was collected a total of 90 data about the real consumption in these cities. It have been differentiated four urban-typologies: 1. Urban core 2. Apartments with garden and pool in condominium 3. Terraced houses (bungalows) with and small private garden and garden and pool in condominium. 4. Detached house with private garden and pool. The study is organized as follows. Firstly, It is analyzed the evolution of water consumption in the three cities between 2000-2013. Secondly, It is differenced the consumption of domestic water between the four urban typologies in the cities and it is also analyzed its evolution and justify the differences between urban typologies. Finally, the main factors influencing domestic water consumption are reviewed, with a special emphasis on territorial and socio-demographic variables. These causes will explain the change of the tendency in domestic water consumption.

Results and discussion

Since the 1960s and 1970s, large and concentrated tourist centers in Southern Europe have tended to be replaced with new types of settlements. This new form, referred to as resort tourism, is less dense than its fordist counterpart. It is characterized by single or condominium residential homes with private gardens and swimming pools (Domene y Saurí, 2006; Hof y Wolf, 2014; Morote y Hernández, 2014; Parés et al., 2013; Swyngedouw, 2013; Vidal et al., 2011). According to the European Environmental Agency, between 1990 and 2000, urbanization in Europe grew 30 percent faster in coastal areas than in inland areas, with the highest rates of increase (25-30 percent) found in Mediterranean Spainish provinces. The predominant pattern of tourist urbanization have been taken part into the form of diffuse settlements with urban sprawl accounting for about 45 percent of the former coastal land transformed into urban areas.the evolution of the water consumption in Alicante, Benidorm and Torrevieja has been decrease since 2005. For example, in Alicante the water consumption decreases 4.000.000 m3 between 2005-2013. If we analyze the consumption about the urban-typologies, we will compare the different influence that has had these typologies (table 1). In these sense, urban land uses and concretely the residential form (compact or dispersed) also bear an important effect on domestic water consumption. In fact, in the coast of Alicante, the dominant model of this form of urbanization is the Anglo-European single house (or condominium), which often includes a garden and, in certain climates, a swimming pool (Morote, 2014). In this sense, gardens are examples of new natures emerging through urbanization, taking the form of assemblages of species and ecological relationships. Another factor is the number of people who lives in the house and the seasonality. In general, this last factor affect to the apartments because these houses are inhabited in summer.

A good understanding of factors that influence domestic water consumption is essential for developing and implementing appropriate policies with regard to this resource. Among these factors, prices and taxes have received considerable attention in the past, whereas demographic and cultural variables remain less explored. Economics has traditionally dominated the scientific literature on domestic water consumption. From the economic perspective, water is generally considered to be an inelastic good since it can hardly be substituted, and users do not tend to perceive this resource as being too costly. Another factor is the improvement of the water supply network and the installation of saving devices. Others factors are the environmental awareness campaigns, use of the reused water for watering gardens and finally, the effect of the economic crisis.

Table 1 Evolution of water consumption between urban-typologies, 2005-2013. Liters/house/day


The study of factors influencing domestic water consumption, other than pricing and taxation, has been somewhat neglected in the literature on this subject, until fairly recently. Most authors agree that it is very important to differentiate between indoor and outdoor uses. The demand for indoor uses tends to be more inelastic as most of these uses (drinking, cooking, bathing, etc.), are essential for social reproduction. However, demand for less necessary outdoor uses (gardens, swimming pools, etc.), tends to be more responsive to price. In this paper, it is demonstrated that there are factors that influencing the decrease of domestic water consumption: the increase of price of water, the improvement of water supply network, the installation of the saving devices, environmental awareness campaigns, etc.

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