Additional Examples of Improved International Leakage Management in Several Countries

A brief description of progressive international water loss management activities is provided to reflect the growing recognition of water loss impacts among countries around the world; and the actions that they are taking to promote water-efficient utilities.


The German water market exists of a multitude of small- and medium-sized enterprises and municipal companies. Water utilities are operated in different legal forms with the most common form being: municipal department, municipal utility, municipal company, joint venture, operator model and management, and service contract.7 Currently there are about 5260 water supply enterprises in Germany. Germany has very strict guidelines and ambitious performance indicators for water loss management. However, it is interesting that those guidelines are driven by hygienic, supply sufficiency, safety, and environmental reasons; unlike England and Wales which are managed largely by economic considerations. In 2003, national guidelines were published for the

German water sector entitled W 392—Network Inspection and Water Loss—Activities, Procedures, and Assessments. They require the water supplier to assess and analyze the water system condition, to calculate and analyze water losses and to employ efficient water loss reduction measures.

Following the W 392 guidelines, German water utilities pursue a comprehensive maintenance strategy which includes asset management as well. Distribution network maintenance in Germany comprises regular inspections of the system and its components, preventive and corrective maintenance, and repair and rehabilitation. A very interesting aspect of the German approach is that maintenance activities are taken into full account in the planning and construction phases. Establishing DMAs during construction of network extensions and installing bulk meters on transmission mains for timely leak detection are examples of this holistic approach. The German guidelines stress the need for comprehensive metering of production, distribution, and customer consumption in order to balance flows and monitor real loss levels with great accuracy. German regulations require water utilities to conduct an annual water audit using a method with precise definitions of each component of the water balance. The recommended format of the water balance is in accordance with the IWA recommendations from the IWA Manual of Best Practice.8 The W 392 guidelines discourage the use of output/input percentages as a real loss indicator by stating: "expressing real losses as a percentage of the system input volume is unsuitable as a technical performance indicator since it does not reflect any of the influencing factors. Systems with higher system input volumes (e.g., urban systems) will automatically have an (apparently) lower level of water losses if expressed in percentages. Systems with low water consumption (e.g., rural systems) will show high percentage figures of real losses. Therefore, comparisons using percentages will always favor systems with high system input."9,4


The Australian water industry consists of over 300 water utilities. Most authorities/ utilities are publicly owned in Australia, with many part of national or local government. Australia entered into a multiyear period of severe drought starting in 2002; an event that is threatening the existence of its agriculture industry and has thrust water loss management into the national political limelight. Over the past 2 to 3 years water loss management activities in Australia have grown substantially in importance for the water industry, as sustainable water management has become an issue of concern for the broader Australian community. The increased focus on water loss management has been led by IWA Water Loss Task Force Deputy Chair Tim Waldron who is the CEO of a medium-sized utility in Australia, Wide Bay Water Corporation.

On a world scale, water losses in Australia are quite low (infrastructure leakage index is typically between 1 and 1.7). These low levels of water loss are the result of; relatively new infrastructure, quick response times to known bursts and high standards for assets selection and asset management throughout the Australian water industry.

Despite these relatively low levels of water loss, the recent focus and investment by the water industry in water loss management has been driven by three fundamentals:

1. Very severe droughts and water scarcity in many of Australia's largest cities and populated regions

2. Government regulation regarding water loss management

3. Increased government funding for water loss management activities

The Australian water industry has adopted the methodologies of the International Water Association's Water Loss Task Force as an organizing concept for much of this work. The adoption of this framework has institutionalized by the fact that key water industry membership organizations such as the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) and the various water directorate organizations have made available software tools and information packages which use the water balance and terminology promoted by the IWA thereby creating this as a de facto Australian standard.

Regulatory reform has been led by the Queensland Government which requires all water service providers in the State of Queensland to

• Prepare a system loss management plan using IWA methodologies (water losses are to be valued at the retail sale price of water)

• Implement cost effective water loss management actions (e.g., active leakage control, pressure management, etc.). Cost effective actions are defined as any activity that will achieve a payback in less than 4 years.

This regulatory regime is now being reviewed by other state governments and commonwealth government regulators and it appears likely as if it may form a model for future regulatory action by government agencies in Australia. The Australian Government (the Commonwealth) through the Australian Water Fund has provided government funding to a number of key trial water loss management projects. The recently elected federal government (December 2007) made water loss management an election issue through the announcement of a major national funding package for water loss management. This national government funding has been reinforced with a number of state governments providing significant funding to assist water authorities to implement water loss management activities (In Queensland, one of the key drought ravaged areas, this state subsidy is 40% of overall project costs).

Thus the regulatory drivers and funding drivers are pushing the water industry in Australia to implement some very large water loss management projects. Most notably in South East Queensland water service providers are currently working on a system to implement DMAs and pressure management in communities currently servicing more than 2 million consumers. The savings that are being achieved through these programs are still significant despite the relatively low levels of losses prior to project implementation.

Since 2003, Gold Coast Water has engaged Wide Bay Water Corporation to implement one of the largest water loss management projects in Australia. The savings that have been achieved by this program are as follows:

Consumption (System Input Volume)

Total system input volume declined by 22.22% from 73,750.7 to 57,361.8 ML/year.

Overall demand has reduced from 1640 to 1091 L/conn/d, reflecting an overall reduction in demand of 549 L/conn/d.

Real Losses

The unit value for current system leakage has dropped from an initial 164 to 46 L/conn/d. (It should be noted that as a result of this performance Gold Coast Water is technically exempt from the preparation of a system loss management plan as the act exempts large water service providers if their real losses are less than 60 L/conn/d.)

The gap between system input and billed consumption has closed from 9134.7 ML/ year, to less than half at 3637.7 ML/year. Current system leakage has reduced by 4951 ML/year or 13.56 ML/year.

These impressive results have been achieved by

• Establishment of district metered areas (5G% of service connections)

• Establishment of leakage test zones (14% of service connections)

• Pressure management in appropriate zones

• Reservoir maintenance and repairs

• Mains replacement

• Replacement of service connections and water meters

• Asset condition assessment and replacement

• Improved burst response time

The implementation of extensive pressure management activities has led to a significant reduction in reported bursts in pressure managed areas.

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