An effective water accounting system is a necessary first step in controlling water losses and reducing water system costs. The quantity of water lost from the water and distribution system will vary depending on how well the system is operated and maintained. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established an industry goal of 10 percent for unaccounted water system losses.
All water systems can benefit from a water accounting system to help track water throughout the system and identify areas that may need attention, particularly large volumes of unaccounted-for water. Unaccounted-for water includes losses that usually result from source meter errors, customer meter under-registrations, accounting procedure errors, illegal connections, malfunctioning distribution system controls, storage tank overflows, theft and underground leaks.
There may be opportunities to save money by decreasing the amount of unaccounted-for system losses. Take our quiz to determine if your water system has more unaccounted for losses than the EPA standard, and to calculate how much this may be costing your municipality. Then work through our checklist of suggestions for proper accounting of water system usage.
A. Identify and quantify all WATER SOURCES:
B. Identify and quantify all METERED USES:
C. Identify and estimate all AUTHORIZED UNMETERED USES: (Include unmetered public buildings, firefighting, main flushing, water quality and other testing)
Calculate water loss unaccounted for:
This shows how near you are to the Industry Standard for Unaccounted-for Water. Your Goal is to reduce this number as much as possible!
Now that you know what your current situation is costing you, you will want to examine the feasibility of different solutions to save money. Some ways of doing this could be:
Make sure you have accurate information to determine the best cause of action.
Once you have confidence that inadequate records and miscalculations have been eliminated, you should implement control systems to make sure better production and delivery information guides investment decisions regarding meter replacements, infrastructure upgrades, and other improvements. This will help ensure you get the best for your user system buck.
Remember - Periodically reassess your water distribution system!
Adequate and accurate records are essential to the effective management of water system operations. You should maintain timely and reliable information concerning your water system's production, metered use, estimated authorized unmetered use, and estimated water losses in order to monitor and evaluate the effect of your policies and efforts to identify areas needing improvement.
Here are some questions to consider:
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, there may be opportunities for improving your water accounting system and saving you money.
Please see our report entitled:
A Study of Water Delivery System Efficiencies 2002-MR-1 [pdf]