Assessment of Factors That Influence Human Water Demand for Providence, Rhode Island

Scientific Investigations Report 2023-5057
Prepared in cooperation with the Rhode Island Water Resources Board
By:  and 



To determine the most relevant climatic and economic factors driving water demand for Providence, Rhode Island, and to further the understanding of human interactions with water availability, linear regression models were developed to estimate single-family and multifamily residential, commercial, and industrial water demand for the service area of Providence Water for 2014–21. Monthly water use delivery data were provided by Providence Water. An array of climatic and economic data, the drought index, and binary variables to represent seasonal water use and the onset of the coronavirus (COVID–19) were investigated as possible explanatory variables for the water demand models. The water demand model with the best fit with the least amount of error was the single-family residential water demand followed in descending order of accuracy by the commercial, multifamily residential, and industrial water demand. Seasonal variables were significant in all models, and the COVID–19 binary variable was significant in the commercial and industrial models. One or two economic variables were significant in all models and one climatic variable was significant in all models except the commercial model.

Overall residential, commercial, and industrial water demand in the Providence, Rhode Island, service area has decreased during the study period most likely because of widescale drought conditions and policies designed to improve water efficiencies. The linear regression models developed for single-family and multifamily residential, commercial, and industrial water use explained 94, 85, 91, and 77 percent, respectively, of the variability in monthly water use. Multifamily residential water demand displayed a less distinct seasonal trend than that observed for single-family residential customers, likely because multifamily homes tend to use less water outdoors. The commercial water-demand model included no climatic variables, one economic variable, the COVID–19 pandemic variable, and the high and low water use seasonal variables—the latter two variables indicating the importance of seasonal fluctuations in water use. The COVID–19 pandemic and a concomitant State executive order had the immediate effect of severely reducing commercial water use. The industrial water-demand model did not perform as well as the other models because industrial water delivery data display a greater range of values, both seasonally and for the overall study period.

Suggested Citation

Stagnitta, T.J., and Medalie, L., 2023, Assessment of factors that influence human water demand for Providence, Rhode Island: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2023–5057, 18 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Assessment of factors that influence human water demand for Providence, Rhode Island
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2023-5057
DOI 10.3133/sir20235057
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center
Description Report: vi, 18 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Rhode Island
City Providence
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details