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EPA Holds Water Loss Webinar

This week, EPA sponsored a webinar on “Using Water Audits to Understand Water Loss.” Controlling water loss can help a water system gain revenue and reduce costs. Water loss is not just a distribution system issue but there are potential losses in the treatment process as well. The webinar pointed out that the old term “unaccounted for water” is outdated and doesn’t adequately describe what is now referred to as “nonrevenue water.” It’s not just about water that is lost but water produced that the water system is not paid for. Also, the traditional measure of water loss, expressed as a percentage, does not fully describe the impact. So, the water system needs a way to capture all these aspects — that tool is the water audit.

The webinar featured the free Water Audit Software, developed jointly by the International Water Association and American Water Works Association, as a tool to help water systems conduct “top down” audits and develop the information necessary to address water loss. It provides a systematic approach that identifies problems throughout the operation. The audit also considers the validity of data so users can understand how much confidence to have in the results. The audit quantifies the loss and forms the basis for a water loss control plan. To be effective, the water loss control must become part of the culture at the utility with regular audits, routine review of performance indicators, and consistent implementation of control measures.

Case studies were presented that showed how water systems, both large and small, can improve their “triple bottom line” by implementing water audits and taking the appropriate follow-up actions. The Water Audit Software now includes a companion “compiler” that allows a system to bring together current year results with previous years and examine trends. This new tool has also been used to compile results from utilities across the country that are following best practices to provide a benchmark for individual water systems to compare their performance.

The IWA/AWWA Water Audit software may be downloaded for free at awwa.org.