Water losses are a growing concern for water utilities, especially in areas experiencing drought or infrastructure management challenges. The first step in reducing water losses is to understand them by completing a water audit. As outlined in previous WRF research, many water audits present an implausible water loss scenario, suggesting that the data in these audits may not be accurate.

Water audit validation is the process of examining water audit inputs to improve the water audit’s accuracy and document the uncertainty associated with water audit data. The water industry is largely unfamiliar with the fundamentals of water auditing and water audit validation, however, these practices can assist utilities in efficiently distributing water and cost-effectively maintaining infrastructure. WRF has published Level 1 Water Audit Validation (project #4639) to define and guide water utilities and regulatory entities in understanding what makes an accurate and reliable water audit. This research was also driven by the fact that some U.S. states (Georgia, California, and Hawaii) have recently required the submission of validated water audits. Other states have adopted water loss reporting requirements and might move in a similar direction.

Project #4639 focuses on the water audit method detailed by American Water Works Association (AWWA) because it is the North American industry best practice. The AWWA method assesses data inputs on a 1–10 score based on corresponding descriptions of practice. This allows for a Data Validity Score to be assigned to the water audit and identify areas for improvement.

The AWWA Water Loss Control Committee suggested four levels of water audit validation which were scrutinized and finalized in this WRF project. Validation can occur at four levels of complexity, starting with level 1. Level 1 water audit validation confirms that AWWA M36 water audit methodology was correctly applied to a utility's specific situation, identifies evident inaccuracies in summary water audit data, and verifies that data validity grades accurately reflect utility practices. While some uncertainty may persist in the water audit, the water audit is more reliable for having been Level 1 validated.

This project produced the following deliverables:

A webcast based on this project is tentatively scheduled for mid-March, 2017.

If you have any questions about this research, please contact Maureen Hodgins, WRF Research Manager (303.734.3465, mhodgins@waterrf.org).