Water Loss Auditing – How To Save Water And Improve Water Utility Revenues

This is a guest blog from Beth Stewart, the Executive Director of Cahaba River Society.


Water utilities can increase their bottom line by reducing their water losses and integrating water efficiencies | © Jeff

Communities across the US are realizing that clean, affordable, abundant water supplies can no longer be taken for granted and are developing their own home-grown responses. Successful approaches combine solutions for water supply, drought, water efficiency, the water-energy connection, and climate resilience. For water utilities, reducing their water losses is a way to increase water efficiency while also improving their bottom line.

In the Birmingham, AL metro area, an unusual combination of players is engaged in collaboration and education for water and energy efficiency. The Collaborative Environmental Network of Alabama (C.E.N.A.) has participants from water and energy providers, environmental groups, industry, green building, education, and faith. Alabama is also engaging state agencies and stakeholders in an effort to develop state water management policy, initiated by Governor Robert Bentley.

Water efficiency is a topic on the table in these Alabama conversations. Improving water efficiency can be a cheap, quick and reliable means of meeting water supply needs for growing communities. Water efficiency also yields energy efficiency – using less water to meet needs reduces the energy demands of pumping, treating, heating and using water. Often the energy bill is the largest operating cost (besides personnel) for water utilities and is a hidden cost for consumers.

For businesses and residents, saving water can also save money on their water bill, sewer bill, and power bill. By modernizing their water pricing structure, water utilities can avoid operating revenue stresses that may result from better water efficiency practices by themselves and their customers.

Controlling water loss in water systems is a foundational efficiency effort that can also financially strengthen the utility. Water is “lost” through leaks in the water delivery system and inaccurate meters that are old or outdated technology. If utilities can track and reduce their lost water, they can fully bill for the water they treat and pump.

On April 10, the Cahaba River Society, Birmingham Water Works Board, Alabama Rivers Alliance, C.E.N.A., American Rivers, Cavanaugh & Associates, and other partners will sponsor a Water Loss Auditing and Control Workshop [PDF] for water utilities and supporting professionals. The workshop will introduce the American Water Works Association (AWWA) best-practices for water system auditing and loss control programs, based on free software. Utilities from across Alabama are planning to attend and learn about success stories in communities that have adopted the free AWWA system. The Birmingham Water Works Board is a Southeast and Alabama leader in using this system and reducing water loss.

This workshop is one of a series that American Rivers has also helped organize to bring the latest tools for managing water loss to utilities in the Carolinas and Georgia. American Rivers has been an expert resource for the water efficiency work of Cahaba River Society, C.E.N.A. and Alabama Rivers Alliance for many years. The workshop will help us advance our conversation in the Birmingham metro area and in Alabama about the value of investing in water efficiency to help meet the needs of future growth, while also keeping utility costs affordable for residents and businesses.