This is the time of the year for ghouls, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Of all the scary things that your water utility might confront on all hallows ‘eve, however, the most chilling might be unforeseen non-revenue water losses from leaks, theft or meter inaccuracies.
As water resources become scarcer and more expensive, water utilities will have to spend more finding and repairing the problems that cause non-revenue water loss. Yet, water loss control can be challenging, confusing, and time-consuming.
There are 52,000 water utilities in the U.S., most of them serving fewer than 10,000 customers. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency there is little oversight ensuring that these utilities manage water efficiently. As a result, it is not uncommon for some water utilities to bill for 50% (or less) of the water that they treat and pump to distribution.
Effective non-revenue water loss control is a multi-step process:
Step 1 – Perform a water audit, or water balance, to account for all metered and nonmetered water use. A properly done water audit will give you the information needed to calculate non-revenue losses.
Step 2 – Do a component analysis to determine where failed pipes or inaccurate meters are located. Having good data will allow you to identify bad components and prioritize them for repair.
Step 3 – Develop an intervention strategy for repairing leaks. Setting up district metering areas, or DMAs, is one intervention strategy that makes it easier to identify abnormal consumption.
Each water loss control phase is data heavy, requires accuracy, and can be labor intensive. Data quality and data collection are the greatest challenges when completing a water audit for the first time. System input and customer volume inaccuracy are primary flaws in many audits due to lack of accurate meter data and unmetered usage.
So, an accurate water audit depends on precise metering at the production and the customer level. This will provide a good water balance validity score. Once accurate meter data is collected and you are transitioning out of the water audit phase, leak detection and monitoring solutions are essential to finding water losses in the distribution systems.
Your Proton Pack to Fight Water Losses
Typically, utilities implement AMI systems to eliminate estimated reads and smooth out revenue cycles. However, once an AMI system is in place, utilities can use the network technology and the data to reduce two types of non-revenue losses, real and apparent, by:
- Extending the existing infrastructure with acoustic sensors that can find real water losses in the form of leaks on water mains before they surface. Aclara’s STAR® ZoneScan leak detection solution can pinpoint leaks within a few feet.
- Analyzing patterns found in meter readings to identify apparent losses, or water consumed but not measured. For example, analytics can help customers reduce apparent losses by finding broken meters that are not registering correctly.
So, avoid a Halloween horror show of leaks and apparent losses. To discover more about reducing non-revenue water losses download our white paper.