Finding Water Supplies and Lost Revenue in the Southeast

March 12-18 is EPA’s WaterSense Fix a Leak Week.  This week will push more people to improve their home’s water efficiency.  While many discussions involve not wasting water at home, American Rivers is also working at the community level.  Where can we find our hidden reservoirs of water supply?  A good place to start is reducing the waste in water systems themselves.

Typically, water waste through leaking water lines or meters is accepted as a cost of business because water’s been so cheap and plentiful.  Water systems are learning that this water loss threatens the stability of their supplies and revenue stream.  How can they track and reduce their lost water consistently? ­­­ The American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the International Water Association (IWA) worked together to create new free software to guide utilities through water loss control and auditing. 

In the Southeast, water scarcity is a growing issue threatening our rivers. With ongoing water shortages, Georgia “felt the pain” first in metro Atlanta leading the Region in efficiency as its thirst grew and water became more valuable. 

  • In 2010, Georgia passed the Water Stewardship Act [PDF] to improve how Georgian’s use water.  Georgia utilities are now required to conduct water loss audits of their system using the AWWA/IWA water auditing software. 
  • As Georgia moves forward with efficiency, American Rivers’ staffers are also working to introduce the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s new conservation tracking tool as utilities review more innovative options.    

Recent historic droughts shocked North Carolina’s water supplies inciting the State to study its water use and resources. 

  • The State began a basin by basin analysis of water availability and water use demand; however North Carolina remains as one of two states in the Southeast without a water withdrawal permitting bill. 
  • North Carolina State University and the University of North are offering water audit trainings and technical assistance on water rate structures and other revenue recovery options.

While South Carolina has felt the same droughts as its neighbors, its efforts in water efficiency are fairly new. 

  • In 2010, the State passed a water withdrawal permitting bill regulating water use and establishing seasonal minimum flows. 
  • The State currently requires auditing and water loss control, but still encourages the older “unaccounted for water” method in its guidance documents
  • Starting with a water loss control and auditing workshop on May 7th in Columbia, American Rivers is working with our partners to offer technical assistance and guidance to water systems on how to adopt and use the newer audit software.

Water efficiency is our cheapest, fastest and most reliable source of sustainable water supply.  We have to start by finding what we’re losing at our utilities.

Not a utility or community, but want to do a water audit for your residential or home water usage?  Check out this resource from the Alliance for Water Efficiency.