A water loss audit is vital for municipalities and large consumers such as hospitals and colleges, even if you already have smart metering. However, too many people don’t know what a water loss audit is, let alone how to do one correctly.
What Is a Water Loss Audit?
One of the issues with any large water system is water loss, which is often caused by aging infrastructure. A water loss audit is a measure of the amount of water which is lost through:
- Leaks and other infrastructure issues
- Unauthorized consumption
- Administrative and data handling errors
- Metering inaccuracies or failure
A water loss audit is a comprehensive examination of a water system to establish how much water is being lost and what is causing the loss. These losses may be real losses (typically caused by leaks) or apparent losses, where water is not generating the revenue it is supposed to.
How Does the Audit Work?
A water loss audit is typically performed by a third party company with experience in performing audits. The company will gather information, and determine both the real and apparent flows into and out of the distribution system.
This will let them assess where the water loss appears to be occurring. Then they will suggest appropriate interventions, which might be physical, policy-based, or even an upgrade to your software to ensure increased accuracy. Audits should be performed at regular intervals to spot new sources of water loss so that interventions can be performed as needed.
What Can an Audit Reveal?
An audit can reveal the following:
- The location and severity of leaks in the system. A water loss audit can reveal leaks that are occurring in underground pipes where they might not be visible. Storage tanks are also prone to developing leaks.
- The efficiency and accuracy of current metering systems and whether an upgrade is warranted.
- Unauthorized consumption, including the location where the water is being harvested.
- Issues with your data analysis and handling causing an inaccuracy in reported usage.
Typically, a water loss audit will reveal multiple problems. No large system is going to be completely free of leaks, and many of them are likely to be unreported and even undetected. However, it’s important not to neglect auditing the software and policy side of things to ensure that you do not have apparent water loss.
What Should You Look For in a Company Selected to Perform the Audit?
You should choose the company that performs your audit carefully. It takes skill and expertise to do a water loss audit correctly. First of all, you should choose a company that uses the best practices outlined by the International Water Association (IWA) and American Water Works Association (AWWA). Both organizations have a mission of improving the stewardship of water and provide guidance to auditors (and organizations and companies being audited).
Make sure that the company you choose has experience doing audits and their audits are comprehensive. They should not focus solely on spotting leaks, but audit all known and unknown water use and assess your overall systems for managing water and improving water efficiency. A water loss audit should be part of your overall efficiency programs.
For facilities such as prisons, it’s a good idea to ensure that the company you choose has specific experience with your type of facility. This can help them find issues that are common in your industry rather than doing a generic audit that only takes into account facility size.
Avoid going with the cheapest company. As already mentioned, it’s common for auditors to focus overly much on leaks and physical issues and ignore all of the other, equally important, things which need to be checked.
If you need a water loss audit, you should contact Envocore today to request a proposal, or check out our survey and testing services. We can discuss your needs and provide you with the water loss audit service you need, as well as further advice on smart metering and water efficiency.