In North America, leakage management programs are not pervasive, even though leakage can be reduced with some simple starting points that result in multiple benefits to the drinking water utility. North American governments are increasingly expressing interest in this area by mandating water audits and other initiatives to improve water supply efficiency. North American utilities can benefit from international experience in leakage management helping to reduce water losses, defer capital expenditure on new water resources, improve the service level and public health protection, and improve the efficiency of distribution system operations.
The primary objectives of this project were to (1) review proactive leakage management technologies used internationally, with a focus on the United Kingdom, (2) assess the applicability of these technologies to North American water utilities and select the most suitable technologies for pilot installations in participating utilities, and (3) provide guidance on how to practically and cost-effectively apply these technologies to North American water utilities based on the research and hands-on installation of promising techniques in controlled pilot areas.
The project found that a water audit provides utilities with the necessary information about their level of losses and how far they can be economically reduced. It is paramount that utilities first understand the nature and extent of their water losses in order to select the best water loss reduction strategy. Through the trial work carried out, the leakage management technologies of DMAs and pressure management were successfully implemented in the participating utilities. It can be concluded that by following the methodologies outlined in this report, both technologies can be successfully applied by most North American utilities. The tested leakage management technologies will be of significant benefit to North American utilities in helping them to assess, control, and reduce the level of real losses in their water supply and distribution networks.