WRF Tool Helps Utilities Manage Water Losses

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The Water Research Foundation, a leading sponsor of research supporting the water community, is helping water utilities better understand and control leakage in a cost-effective manner through recently completed research and the development of a new leakage analysis tool. Water Audits and Real Loss Component Analysis project (#4372) provides water utilities information to better understand the sources of their losses from leakage throughout the water distribution system and a tool to help analyze the economic impact of various intervention strategies.

Most water utilities in North America use reactive leakage management strategies, through which failures are repaired when they are reported to the utility. Because of this, utilities are continuing to experience increases in leakage losses throughout the distribution system due to a rising backlog of unreported distribution system failures. These losses continue to mount in spite of the fact that significant industry research has demonstrated the economic and efficiency gains that can be achieved through proactive leakage management.

To develop an effective and proactive leakage loss reduction strategy, utilities must undertake three major steps: a “top-down” water audit; component analysis of real losses; and evaluation of least-cost real loss reduction strategies. The water audit estimates revenue and nonrevenue water, as well as real losses as a subcategory of nonrevenue water. The leakage component analysis further determines the known real losses and categorizes them into three types of leakage: reported, unreported or background. This step includes water audit results, utility data on specific leak occurrences, and a calculation of background losses.

By then combining the component analysis with an evaluation of least cost real loss reduction strategies, it is possible to calculate how much of each type of leakage can be economically reduced through the right combination of intervention tools. Very few water utilities have the necessary expertise in leakage loss management to efficiently undertake a leakage component analysis and design the correct leakage control program. Water Research Foundation project
#4372 was designed to fill this gap.

“This important research will help utilities better handle leakage issues they are facing, resulting in economic savings and more efficient utilization of valuable and finite water resources,” says Rob Renner, executive director of WRF. “WRF will continue to help our utility partners provide safe water in the most economically efficient ways possible.”

WRF and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sponsored this research project that involved 10 utilities of various sizes from throughout North America. The full report and component analysis model can be accessed through the WRF website. A recently conducted webcast on the project is also available on demand. 

About the Water Research Foundation
WRF is an internationally recognized leader in sponsoring research that supports the water community in holistically and cooperatively managing water from all sources to meet social, environmental and economic needs. WRF’s research provides reliable and relevant solutions to the most critical challenges facing the water community today and into the future. Founded in 1966, WRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, go to www.WaterRF.org.


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