Water loss too often gets dismissed. Yet, if you are talking to your water utility’s board of directors and 30% of your presentation wasn’t heard or seen by them, you’d stop immediately to diagnose the problem. If it was beyond your capabilities, you’d grab an expert to help solve the issue. What about water loss in your system? Non-Revenue Water (NRW), or water loss, can vary greatly from utility to utility, with estimates ranging from 10-30%. The older the utility infrastructure, the worse the problem can be — and much of our water infrastructure is decades older than its intended life-span.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
All industries have a loss of one kind or another, but losing 30% of your product is unacceptable. In manufacturing, any waste, from the simple (inefficient motion) to the complex (defects), must be addressed head-on to maintain competitiveness. Scrap product, a manufactured component or final product that cannot be used or sold, is the closest comparison in manufacturing to water loss in our industry. Because it involves just as much work (labor, material, electricity, etc.) as a good product, the financial loss of the piece of scrap product is significant. In this same way, water loss is a manufactured product that requires all the effort needed to produce the clean drinking water a customer draws from their faucet — without the benefit of use
We can all relate to pipes and pipe fittings, right? Pipe fitting manufacturers maintain very low scrap rates (1-5%) to stay competitive. Most water utilities would be envious of 1-5% water loss. Well, manufacturers implement all sorts of changes to reduce scrap, and the first step they all take is identifying where the scrap is being generated. This is what’s needed at many water utilities across the country, and Master Meter has the technology and expertise to help identify problem areas in their systems.
Let’s take a look at the food industry and its waste. Tons of food is wasted in the U.S. — the U.N. estimates more than 250MM tons — but did you know that most of the waste (up to 40%) occurs at retail or in the home? Even so, where the food industry is similar to that of water, in production, food waste is still less than water loss. Food loss at retail or in the home is more like water loss after the home- or business owner’s meter. It isn’t something the producers (water utilities) have control over.
What if meat producers lost 30% of every cow they raised and butchered. They wouldn’t stay in business very long. According to the U.N. food loss in the production of meat across North America is estimated at 9.5%. Again, that would be an envious rate of water loss for many water utilities.
The first step to managing waste is understanding where and how often it occurs. Advanced metering technology is a critical element of the solution. Non-Revenue Water management begins with accurate ultrasonic measurement, precisely synchronized meter data, and intuitive meter data management (MDM) software to clarify decision making.
Master Meter has the solutions your utility needs to start addressing waste — and together, we can bring water loss under control.