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A Study On Water Consumption In Medium Sized Villas Within Gated Communities In Abu Dhabi -- The Residential End-use Of Water Project

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Khadija Bin Braik, Matthew Griffiths, Oriana Correia, Ali Al Marzouqi
Regulation and Supervision Bureau1

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

In Abu Dhabi, the residential sector consumes approximately 50% of the desalinated water that is produced for the Emirate. Therefore, understanding how water is being used in a home is an important focal point for water sustainability efforts. To this end, The Residential End Use of Water (REUW) Project was the first of its kind in the country and aimed to collect and analyse water end-use data in unprecedented detail.

The REUW Project was designed to achieve the following objectives: collect accurate statistics of residential water use; where and how customers actually use water within their homes; determine the split between indoor and outdoor water-use in the Abu Dhabi environment; identify and explore the source and scale of water leaks and inform decisions and strategies for future water management and conservation programmes in Abu Dhabi.

The Project involved the installation of high-resolution smart meters (hereinafter referred to as "meters") in 150 medium sized villas in gated communities located in Abu Dhabi. These meters captured flow trace signatures from individual appliances and fixtures within each villa. In addition, a water use behavioural survey was carried out on participating residents to further complement metered data, helping analyse specific patterns and learn more about participants' habits and perspectives regarding their own water use.


The first stage of the REUW Project took place from September to October 2012 and involved a small-scale pilot study that allowed testing of each component of the project in the Abu Dhabi context. The full Project commenced in the first quarter of 2013 with the recruitment of 150 participants followed by the subsequent installation of the meters and monitoring and surveying homes during 3 two-week periods in June-July, September-October and December 2013.

Recruitment and installation

Recruitment of 150 volunteers was carried out using a "door-knocking" approach at 9 pre-selected compounds. Following recruitment, a meter and data logger, capable of remotely transferring data, was installed at each villa. The meter was installed in the pipe downstream of the individual household storage tanks and booster pumps.

Flow trace analysis

The data from the water meters was collected at 10 second intervals with a resolution of 0.05 litres per pulse. At this resolution it was possible to disaggregate the water use in the homes into individual water use events, and to categorise the events by end-use. The data was then downloaded to a flow trace analysis software (Trace Wizard©) that showed how water was being used around the home. This allowed the research team to determine household and per-capita water use directly from the participant's meter in a non-intrusive manner, and in a way that eliminated uncertainties caused by leakage in the distribution system or the storage tanks.

The key to the process is that events fall into repeating patterns, which the programme recognises and labels. Each water use event in the flow trace was characterised by fixture type, flow rate, duration and volume.

Results and Discussion

Following the 3 monitoring periods, the flow trace signatures logged at each villa were disaggregated and analysed to match flow patterns with water use events and specific water using appliances. The key findings from combined monitoring periods are summarised below.

Water Consumption Results of the overall study group

Table 1 summarises the per-household water use statistics from the study group for the combined monitoring periods.

Table 2 summarises the average household water use statistic.

Per capita use was largely driven by the number of occupants residing in each home. The average number of household occupants throughout the 150 participating villas was 5.1. Many homes did not use dishwashers although they were found to be water-efficient and to reduce the water use for taps.

Landscape use

Landscape use is reported on a household basis. Table 3 shows a summary of the average daily water use for landscape purposes during each monitoring period and for the combined data. Landscape use was the one category of use that appeared to be affected by season.

Diurnal Use Patterns

The water use data for the study homes was evaluated on an hourly basis for each individual end use and is presented in figure 1 below.


The REUW Project enabled collection of accurate statistics of residential water use in gated communities in Abu Dhabi; where and how consumers actually use water within their homes, as well as determine the split between indoor and outdoor water-use.

The two most likely sources of water savings are considered to be in control of leakage and in irrigation. It is recommended to promote the change of irrigation habits, by watering the garden early mornings or at night only, and use smart irrigation systems.

Tap use was found to be a large proportion of water use and therefore programmes for reducing excess tap use should be studied. Furthermore, it appears that use of dish washers could save water, and consumers should be encouraged to use them and educated on how do to so properly. The average shower flow rate in the group was approximately 10 litres per minute. There are high efficiency shower heads that flow a 6 litres per minute. These should be introduced and used wherever possible.

Car washing was linked to an increase in tap use, and it may be possible to educate people to wash cars in commercial car washers, which normally recycle water and return water to the wastewater system, and thus are more efficient than home car-washing.

In the future, end-use studies should be carried out in other property types in Abu Dhabi, such as larger, older and non-gated community villas in order to understand water use within them.

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