Modelling Domestic Water Use in Metropolitan Areas Using Socio-Cognitive Agents
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Water Use Modelling and Socio-Demographic Factors
2.2. Including Socio-Cognitive Factors in Water Management
2.3. Agent-Based Modelling and Social Simulation
2.4. Relevant Socio-Cognitive Processes for Water Use Modelling
2.4.1. Adoption of Conservation Practices or Technology
2.4.2. Social Influence in Water Use
3.1. Model Overview
- The only agents in the model are households.
- Households use water to fulfil their needs and pay for it.
- The use of water in a household depends on the characteristics of the household, its profile, which include socio-economic, cultural, and water saving technologies and practices.
- Households may be connected with other households and thus be subject to mutual influence.
- The city is subject to demographic change; that is, the population of households changes over time, new households (with their own profiles) come into the city while others leave, and through this demographic process the cultural and economic composition of the city evolves.
- City authorities establish water-saving requirements for new households
- City authorities charge for the water households use according to a tariff that is larger for higher users
- The first scenario, is a ceteris paribus baseline. Household profiles are based on the actual data for the Barcelona metropolitan area. Household sizes, housing typologies, water-efficient domestic fixtures, water prices and taxation, and citizen awareness remain stable in the future. Population grows according to the current (official) demographic parameters for Barcelona.
- The second scenario reflects an influx of smaller households into the high-density areas of the city. Thus, household sizes decrease, housing typologies observe a significant increase of small flats; water-efficient appliances experience a substantial increase, water prices and taxation increase (for instance, to consider the costs of new water treatments), and also does environmental awareness.
- The third scenario reflects a contrary evolution. Household sizes increase (due, for example, to immigration waves), housing typologies observe a balanced distribution between large and small flats, water-efficient appliances increase only slightly; water pricing and taxation decrease (due, for example, to public subsidies or more cost-efficient policies by companies and regulators), and environmental awareness remains stable.
3.2. Entities and Assumptions
- Income (sum of household members’ incomes; 3000, 80,000.
- Size (i.e., number of members; 1–6).
- Housing type (occupancy density of the building where households are located; high, medium, low).
- Value profile (motivation and disposition towards water-saving practices and technologies; four profiles presented below).
- Water practices (i.e., use habits, Table 2).
- Water technologies (i.e., appliances and fixtures; Table 3).
- Water demand.
- Water bill.
- Clients: Households whose motivation is focused on money savings and who are more prone to consider appliances than habits to reduce their water use.
- Techno-solutionists: Households whose motivation is focused on money savings and who only consider new appliances to reduce their water use. However, they can imitate the practices of neighbours.
- Committed: Households whose motivation is focused on water savings and who are equally likely to consider appliances or practices to reduce their water use.
- Environmentalist: Households whose motivation is focused on water savings and who only consider practices to reduce their water use.
3.2.2. Social Model
3.3. Process Overview
- Water use: Households demand water for their domestic uses according to their habits and appliances, for which they receive a water bill.
- Adoption assessments: Households maybe triggered to adopt a practice or technology in order to adapt their water-related behaviour to their contextual factors in accordance with their motivations. Households choose one appliance or practice (from a list of options) and assess their choice. If the assessment is successful, the practice or appliance is adopted.
- Abandonment assessment: Households may be triggered to abandon a practice, households choose one appliance or practice (from a list of options), and assess their choice according to their interests. If the assessment is successful, the practice or appliance is adopted.
- Social influence: Households can imitate neighbours’ practices. It is divided into:
- Close neighbours’ influence: Households can imitate neighbours’ indoor and outdoor practices.
- Spatial neighbours’ influence: Households can imitate neighbours’ outdoor practices.
- Population evolution: Each year, the number of households of the system increases due to the population growth (approx 2.5%) and the socio-cultural composition of the population changes (due, for instance, to a demographic trend towards smaller families or single households). Note that, because of the randomness of the profiles of new households in each simulation step, the total population and number of households may be different for different runs. This differentiation process is accentuated when household renewal parameters are distinct for different scenarios (like the ones simulated in this paper). Since new household profiles are (randomly) obtained in each simulation step, household size tends to be different in each scenario; and although the size of the starting population is the same in the three scenarios, its evolution is different for each scenario (in general, S2 < S1 < S3).
3.4. Calibration and Comments
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. Scenario S1
4.2. Scenario S2
4.3. Scenario S3
4.4. Comparison Between Per Capita and Total Water Use
4.5. Comparison Between Economic Impacts
5. Closing Remarks
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
Appendix A. Submodels
|Number of Members||1||2||3||4||5||6|
|Number of Members||<9000||9000–14,000||14,000–19,000||19,000–25,000||25,000–35,000||>35,000|
|1 member (%)||27.3||26.3||23.0||13.0||7.9||2.6|
|Month||Evapotranspiration ET0 (mm)||Precipitation Pt (mm)||Crop Coefficient Kc|
- Trigger: When the state of some variables of the agent’s environment is discrepant enough with those desired (or satisfactory) states, the agent is triggered to act or adapt its behaviour. For instance, some households may be triggered to adopt water-saving technology when the water bill is too high according to their expectations. This means that, if the situation is not discrepant enough, agents will not change their behaviour (thus exhibiting some degree of inertia).
- Motivation: It represents the contribution of the action to the agent’s motivations (in other words, the action’s benefit, utility, or rewarding value). Hence, this step implies some sort of evaluation mechanism (e.g., utility function or decision tree) to evaluate the action. For instance, purchasing a new washing machine that uses little water per load means to save money, which can be worthwhile for a household that values wealth.
- Ability: It represents the capacity of the agent to perform the action, with respect to its skills, resources, or entitlements. Also, these capacities can be related to the affordances that the system gives to perform the action  (that is, the features of the system that support the effective execution of some action by agents). This step also implies some sort of evaluation of the action. For instance, technologies are assessed with respect to its affordability; an obvious example is that an agent may be triggered and motivated to buy a new washing machine, but the appliance may be too expensive. These cognitive processes are implemented as follows: Once the agent’s trigger is activated, the agent chooses one practice or technology (see below for further details about this choice) and assesses the contribution to its motivation. If this contribution is satisficing, the agent assesses the ability to adopt. These steps represent the transition from non-adopter to potential-adopter, and from potential-adopter to actual-adopter . Notice that this adoption process involves a comparison between the current situation and a hypothetical situation, whose assessment is based on the agent’s values and resources. Adoption only occurs when transiting from the current situation to the hypothetical situation increases the utility (necessary but not sufficient condition).
|Profile||Trigger||Probability (pract : tech)||Motivation|
|Client||1.5 · ΔD/B > 3%||(0.2 : 0.8)||U (1.5 · ΔD/B)|
|Techno-optimist||2 · ΔD/B > 4%||(0 : 1)||U (2 · ΔD/B)|
|Committed||D > 140 L/p·day||(0.5 : 0.5)||U (ΔD/D)|
|Environmentalist||D > 120 L/p·day||(1 : 0)||U (ΔD/D)|
|Client||1.5 · ΔD/B < 1%||Ua (1.5 · ΔD/B)|
|Techno-optimist||1.5 · ΔD/B < 1%||Ua (1.5 · ΔD/B)|
|Committed||D < 100 L/p·day||Ub (ΔD/D)|
|Block||Range (m3/Month)||Price (EUR/m3)|
|Block||Range (m3/Month)||Price (EUR/m3)|
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|Income (EUR/year)||[3000, 80,000]|
|Size (members)||[1, 6]|
|Housing type||High-; Mid-; or Low-density|
|Value profile||Client; Techno-optimist; Committed; Environmentalist|
|Water technology||See Table 2 and Table 3|
|Water practices||See Table 4|
|General hygiene||Water for hygiene-related activities (e.g., washing one’s hands, brushing one’s teeth)|
|Toilet||Water for discharging (mainly) organic waste of physiologic origin|
|Doing the dishes||Water for washing and rinsing dishes and kitchenware|
|Doing the laundry||Water for washing clothes|
|Shower||Water for washing one’s hair and body|
|Consumption||Water for cooking or drinking. Many households use bottled water|
|Maintenance||Water for cleaning the house and irrigating indoor plants|
|Garden||Water for irrigating outdoor plants|
|Swimming pool||Water for filling a swimming pool and compensating evaporation losses|
|Domestic Use||Appliance or Technology||Floor Magnitude||Cost|
|General hygiene||Regular faucet|
Faucet with aerator
|Dishes||Dishwasher||15 L/t||300 EUR|
|Toilet||Regular toilet Double-discharge toilet (3/6L)||6 L/t|
4.5 L/t (avg)
Shower-head with aerator
|Domestic Use||Practice or Habit||Time or Frequency|
|6 min/p·day, 6 t/p·week|
3 min/p·day, 6 t/p·week
|General hygiene||Inappropriate use|
|Dishes||Faucet, Inappropriate use|
Dishwasher, low efficiency
Dishwasher, high efficiency
|See Table A3 |
See Table A3
|Swimming pool||Annual filling and maintenance|
Triannual filling and maintenance
Garden (in case)
|Swimming pool (in case)||Triannual filling||-|
|Scenario||Average Use (L/p·Day)||Average Size (Members/hh)||Total Population||Total Demand (m3/Month)|
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Perello-Moragues, A.; Poch, M.; Sauri, D.; Popartan, L.A.; Noriega, P. Modelling Domestic Water Use in Metropolitan Areas Using Socio-Cognitive Agents. Water 2021, 13, 1024. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081024
Perello-Moragues A, Poch M, Sauri D, Popartan LA, Noriega P. Modelling Domestic Water Use in Metropolitan Areas Using Socio-Cognitive Agents. Water. 2021; 13(8):1024. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081024Chicago/Turabian Style
Perello-Moragues, Antoni, Manel Poch, David Sauri, Lucia Alexandra Popartan, and Pablo Noriega. 2021. "Modelling Domestic Water Use in Metropolitan Areas Using Socio-Cognitive Agents" Water 13, no. 8: 1024. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081024