Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor 1

Alex Mayer

Committee Member 1

David Watkins

Committee Member 2

Ann Maclean


Urban evapotranspiration (ET) in semi-arid and arid regions is an important component of the urban water cycle, especially in regions that have limited freshwater supplies. Understanding urban evapotranspiration in these regions is necessary for assessing and managing water resources and ensuring that conservation strategies are effective and sustainable. The objective of this study is to estimate urban ET in the Middle Rio Grande Basin to provide an understanding of evaporative water losses in semi-arid to arid urban environments for future water management decisions. The focus of this study is on the cities of El Paso, TX, US; Las Cruces, NM, US; and Ciudad Juarez, CH, MX.

Components of urban ET include vegetation and bare soil ET, open water evaporation, evaporation from infrastructure losses, and evaporative cooler evaporation. Multiple methods were used to provide an estimate of total urban ET from individual components, as well as total ET for each city at an average annual time scale. Average urban ET for the study area, including evaporation from precipitation, is approximately 500 mm annually. Urban ET accounts for up to 60% of annual water demand and ranges from an average of 13 million m3 annually in Las Cruces to 91 million m3 annually in El Paso. Water conservation and management is crucial in water scarce environments, especially as urban populations increase and freshwater supplies continue to decrease in many regions along with shifts in climate. Water loss to ET is an important component of the urban water cycle and must be considered in conservation and management decisions for urban water supplies to remain sustainable in the future.