Water Loss


The Water Loss Specialist Group is strongly focused on all treated water that is lost, which is mostly from underground leaks on water-mains and water service pipes, and also how to reduce those losses through leak detection and hydraulic control. However those losses include any water that has entered the networks following treatment, and fails to get through to consumers/customers. Identifying how much water is being lost is the recommended starting place for utilities and practioners. The group has developed a method of accounting for all water entering a water supply system, and this process has been accepted world –wide by everyone associated with managing water networks. The terminology then changed from “Unaccounted For Water”’ to “Non Revenue Water”, on the basis that all water can now be accounted for, albeit that the IWA process for accounting for water will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of data they have for measurement. This “top down” approach provides a strategic direction for utility managers to determine their best approach to reducing losses. The group has also identified four important actions that can be taken to reduce water losses, and subsequently this has been graphically shown as a strategic plan to reduce the overall volume of lost water.

A key message to the industry that is an outcome from this work, is that percentages are a poor method of measuring losses when used to measure progress, or as comparisons to other similar utilities. An emphasis has been placed on having accurate data regarding flow measurement into water distribution networks, and water pressure variance. These are key factors to be known in order to identify where most leakage is, and to understand where leaks can be found and how leaks can be stopped from

The importance of reducing water losses intensifies whenever a drought is imminent, but a greater appreciation of all impacting aspects is being made known by the specialist group to the industry. One of these issues relates to the improved availability of water for revenue purposes. In line with this is the impact on financial saving to a utility on every other part of their business, if water losses are reduced.

It impacts on every part of the business, including:

  • Treatment, finance, debt, depreciation, dams, Operational cost, Capital deferment, asset life extension, distribution knowledge, organisational speed, intelligent understanding, engineering challenge, measurement knowledge, and impacts on the success of Management and Corporate plans
  • It impacts on profitability, has less service interruptions, results I water quality improvements via less contamination, achieves environmental excellence, and has significant political interest.

The groups present focus is regionalisation, and through asking regional leaders in 12 parts of the world to create water loss activities in areas where we have previously had little influence.

A key technology development that would help in distribution management and finding leaks would be gained if Ground Penetrating Radar could be vastly improved. This would provide an x-ray vision of what is happening below the surface of roads and pavements, and therefore greatly assist the industry.