Water loss management is a critical issue for water agencies in California. Drought, aging infrastructure, depleted groundwater resources and more have led to mandatory water management measures. One such measure is the California water loss audit.
The state requires under Senate Bill 555 that all urban water agencies meeting certain criteria to submit annual water loss audit reports.
Water utilities and agencies with more than 3,000 service connections or that produce more than 3,000-acre-feet of water per year are required to submit the reports by Oct. 1 each year.
The audit reports must adhere to standards set by the American Water Works Association.
The mandatory audits are a concerted effort to track water losses associated with urban water distribution systems and to identify areas for efficiency improvement and cost recovery from real water losses.
California is one of a handful of states across the country that implement water loss management policies utilizing AWWA methodology.
Texas, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire use AWWA’s water loss auditing software, using methods and terminology in varying degrees.
Georgia is the only other state other than California that uses the auditing software with Level 1 validation.
While the deadline is five months away, California water agencies should begin preparing for their water loss audit reports now.
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Following is an outline of the main requirements of the water loss audit, and steps that will ensure a smooth reporting process.
Water Loss Audit Background and Requirements
The International Water Association and AWWA jointly developed the water audit method.
The State Water Department put aside more than $3.2 million in 2016 to help urban water agencies comply with SB 555.
In addition to free water loss audit software, the state provided more than 73 in-person training workshops and follow up practice validations since the law passed.
Approximately 385 urban water retailers took part in the in-person workshops and validation practice sessions. More than 1,500 water agencies completed online validations practice sessions.
The basics of what is required in a water loss audit report include:
- Agencies that operate several water distribution systems, must submit a separate report for each separate system.
- All audit reports must follow the terminology and reporting methods recognized by the American Water Works Association.
- Audit reports must be validated by a utility’s chief financial officer, chief engineer, or general manager.
- All reports must include information on steps taken by the water supplier the previous year to improve water data validity and to reduce apparent and real water losses.
- The audit must be verified by a certified water loss auditor.
All completed water loss reports are posted on the Web by the State Department of Water Resources.
In 2020, the State Water Resources Control Board will set performance standards regarding water volume water losses based on data from submitted audit reports.
The State Water Resources Control Board outlines four phases for setting Performance Standards for Water Loss.
The third phase would see the implementation of allowable water loss volumes set by the State Water Board beginning in 2028.
Urban Retailer Water Loss Audit Requirements
Supporting documentation that an urban water retailer must submit to a water loss auditor includes:
- Monthly water volume data from its own sources using water metering, data-logging, and meter testing.
- Reported volume of imported and exported each month by connection.
- Documentation of customer meter and supply meter accuracy testing and calibration, if conducted.
- Reported volume of authorized consumption each month, broken down by water rate if different rates are applied to water users.
Although not required, to complete level 1 validation, the following documentation should be supplied if available.
- System Schematic showing locations of supply and export meters
- Customer Meter inaccuracy derivation
- Average operating pressure derivation
- Customer retail unit cost derivation
- Variable production cost derivation
All data and supporting documents must be submitted to a certified water loss auditor for verification of the calculations.
Water loss auditors should schedule an in-person meeting with a utility to review the audit. If all data and reporting are valid a validation certificate is signed and provided to the water agency.
Nobel Systems provides certified water loss audits. The company also conducts an in-depth analysis of a water utility’s existing processes to determine where there may be areas that can be improved to reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve future scores.
Nobel Systems provides its water loss auditing services at a cost. However, if an organization should choose to implement its software systems GeoViewer to help improve documentation of meter calibration and testing, among other services, a discount on its software to account for the validation cost is provided.
More information can be obtained by filling out the contact form below.