Component Analysis of Real Losses

As already mentioned, it is best practice that in parallel to establishing a water balance a component analysis of real losses is carried out to assess the volume of hidden losses and to get a detailed understanding of the efficiency of the current leak repair policy.

In 1994, a concept called Burst and Background Estimates (BABE) was published, acknowledging that the annual volume of real losses consists of numerous leakage events, where each individual loss volume is influenced by flow rate and duration of leak run time before it is repaired. A component-based leakage analysis breaks leakage down into three categories:

• Background leakage (undetectable): Small flow rate, continuously running

• Reported breaks: high flow rate, relatively short duration

• Unreported breaks: moderate flow rates, the run time depends on the intervention policy

It is not recommended that a component analysis is undertaken on its own to derive a volume of annual real losses because there is likely to be a significant level of uncertainty in much of the data used in the analysis. However, a component analysis is a very useful supplement to a top-down water balance because it provides estimates of the volumes of real losses in different elements of the distribution infrastructure. This data is so valuable because it is required to develop the most appropriate loss reduction strategy and it is essential for a robust determination of the economic level of leakage (ELL).

As depicted in Fig. 5.1 the water balance calculates the total volume of real losses for the audit year. However, it does not provide the information on what portion of these real losses is due to hidden losses (losses from leaks that have not been captured by the utilities current leakage management policy). By assessing the volume of real losses through component-based analysis, it is possible to determine the volume of real losses that have been captured through the current leakage control policy. Therefore, by deducting the real losses based on the component-based analysis from the real losses based on the top-down water balance, it is possible to determine the volume of hidden losses.

Hidden losses = real losses from top-down water balance - real losses from component analysis

The results from this analysis can then be cross checked against the real loss volumes measured in DMAs (see Sec. 5.2.3).

Water balances and component analysis of real losses have to be carried out at least once a year since they are such an integral part of any water loss control program. Many utilities establish water balances on a monthly basis to keep a close eye on their water loss management performance.

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