Delaware • New Jersey • Pennsylvania
New York • United States of America
Nationwide, an estimated six billion gallons per day of water is taken from water resources and never reaches the customer; this is enough water to supply the drinking water needs of the ten largest cities in the United States. In the Delaware River Basin, this number is estimated at 150 million gallons per day.
Water suppliers are experiencing real water losses due to physical infrastructure failures (see photo at right) and apparent losses resulting from inaccurate meter readings and erroneous billing practices. As demand for water increases, it is essential to ensure that water supplies and the infrastructure delivering water are dependable and efficiently move water from source to customer.
In the past, water system audits have been conducted in the absence of consistent definitions and standards and have often used inappropriate metrics for measuring the water supply efficiency. Not surprisingly, some systems bill only half, or less, of the total water they treat, pressurize, and put into the distribution system.
In 2009, the Delaware River Basin Commission amended its Comprehensive Plan and Water Code to implement an updated water audit approach to identify and control water loss in the Basin. The new approach is consistent with the International Water Association (IWA) and American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water Audit Methodology that is considered a best management practice in water loss control. Additional information on the DRBC rule change can be found under Useful Links.
The Commission's revised rules are based on precise definitions and rational accounting procedures that result in a clearer understanding of the causes of water loss and allow system operators, utility managers, and regulators better target their efforts to improve water supply efficiency. By recognizing such problems and proactively seeking best management solutions, the DRBC is one of a handful of regulatory agencies in the United States that has changed its regulations to reflect the improved approach to water loss accounting made possible by the IWA/AWWA methodology. The rule changes approved by the DRBC Commissioners in 2009 were developed by DRBC staff and the DRBC’s Water Management Advisory Committee (WMAC).
DRBC notified the regulated community subject to the new water audit requirement that the first report would cover calendar year (CY) 2012. Calendar year reports are due to DRBC by March 31 of the following year.
DRBC CY2012 Water Audit Program Summary (presentation given at 10/22/13 DRBC WMAC Meeting; pdf 1.3 MB)
DRBC's New Water Loss Reporting Program Helps Track Water Supply Efficiency in the Basin (3/31/14 DRBC News Release)
Summary of CY2012 Water Audit Data Collection (pdf 151 KB)
A number of resources are available to assist water system operators in water audits and water loss control:
DRBC's Water Audit Program Information:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding DRBC's Water Audit Reporting Requirements (pdf 341 KB; updated Feb. 2014)
- Water System Audits and Water Loss Control (2011; DRBC partnered with the Philadelphia Water Department, NJ American Water, and Aqua Pennsylvania to present this day long workshop)
- DRBC Resolution Changes (pdf 33 KB). A link to a document containing the pertinent changes to DRBC’s Water Code (pdf 1 MB) in reference to Water Audits and Accounting for Water Losses.
- DRBC Notice of Final Rulemaking as appears in the November 20, 2009 Federal Register (pdf 136 KB)
- DRBC Response to Comments Document on Proposed Rule Change (pdf 59 KB; Dec. 2008)
Other Helpful Links:
- AWWA’s Free Water Audit Software: The free Water Audit Software operates as a spreadsheet designed in Microsoft Excel format and provides an effective, standardized structure to perform a water audit consistent
with DRBC’s new regulations.
- AWWA’s M36 Manual (4th edition) Water Audits and Water Loss Control: This recently updated guidance manual covers the steps required to compile the water audit, how to plan and implement a loss control program, and includes case studies of small and large systems.
- EPA's Control and Mitigation of Drinking Water Losses in Distribution Systems (pdf 2.8 MB). This guidance document provides information on flexible tools and techniques that may help public water systems (PWS) tailor a program to meet their water loss prevention needs and maintain their infrastructure to deliver clean, safe drinking water to customers.
- Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): Cutting Our Losses - State Policies to Track and Reduce Leakage from Public Water Systems (DRBC's water audit program is included)
- North American Water Loss Conference Presentations (pdf 220 KB; Dec. 2015)