Document Details

Managed Environmental Water Use Efficiency: Evidence in Practice

Lisa Walling, Sarah Heard, Karin Edwards, Loida Begley | May 12th, 2006

The California Water Plan Update 2005 first introduced the term Managed Environmental Water Use Efficiency (MEWUE). Specifically, it defines MEWUE as a “mechanism to analyze alternative uses of managed environmental water to determine which allocation of a given amount of water will maximize environmental benefits, and as a means to improve decision-making over time.” While MEWUE is a new term, we found several instances where managers maximized environmental benefit from a given amount of water in current practice.

This paper demonstrates and analyzes current applications of MEWUE. It then provides the Department of Water Resources with the following recommendations to advance the concept and formally incorporate it into environmental water management:

  • Formalize a MEWUE Policy to clearly state that the goal of MEWUE is a management strategy to maximize environmental benefit and not a water conservation policy.
  • Develop Best Management Practices to increase understanding, provide guidance, and encourage use of MEWUE.
  • Operate a MEWUE Pilot to learn more about the way MEWUE works, understand its strengths, and improve on its weaknesses.
  • Facilitate an Environmental Water Market by applying experience and infrastructure to provide solutions for projects that require more water.


best management practices (BMPs), ecosystem management, planning and management, water use efficiency