Introduction

Water loss is a chronic, and often severe, global problem; spanning from highly developed countries with extensive infrastructure to developing countries with limited resources. Climate change, drought, and water shortages, often occurring in arid or semiarid regions of expanding population, are having an increasing impact on water supplies and water is becoming a limiting factor for economic growth and environmental sustainability. Given this stark reality, it is inconceivable that most countries do not require reliable tracking of water supplies and losses. Commonly heard justifications from water utility managers for their inaction are a perceived lack of resources and the burden of many other priorities of system operation. Some utilities downplay their losses out of fear of public resentment, especially in cases where the utility is asking the customer to conserve water or pay higher rates or tariffs. In areas with limited water audit regulations, some utility managers distort their true losses on paper using "pencil," audits that are not scrutinized by outside authorities. Most of these practices, however, are merely a reflection of the lack of a regional or national agenda for water loss control for these utilities.

Throughout the world, the water supply/ demand balance is in jeopardy. In many developing and some developed countries, some water systems do not provide customers a continuous water supply on a 24-hour per day basis, particularly during times of drought. Other systems are faced with seemingly limited water resources to supply rapidly developing communities. Water utilities in resort communities serve a heavy holiday and tourist trade, resulting in weekend and holiday peaks many times higher than normal operating peak flows. These systems often borrow significant funds and install costly new water sources that are utilized only on a part-time basis. The rest of the time the costly investment sits unused and inefficient. For systems in these conditions, water loss management offers multiple advantages of capturing treated water volumes now lost to leakage while and recovering additional needed revenue by managing apparent losses. A successful water loss control program can defer the cost of loans for capital investments, stretch existing water resources and improve customer satisfaction; and usually provides a very fast payback.

The first step into the right direction is to assess and acknowledge the problem followed by dedicating resources and funds to efficiently control water losses. This chapter explains how water loss is managed in various countries, focusing on the contrasting structures in the United States and England and Wales; as well as a number of other countries who have taken a progressive stance on water loss. Insight is given into the regulatory structures, standards, and water loss management practices of these countries.

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