17 Oct 2013

Where's your water -- and your money?

I made this [PDF]. Does it give a clear explanation?

Addendum: Thanks to PM for the American Water Works Association Water Audit XLS, which lets you do this for real.


  1. It could use some flow (pun intended) chart arrows to help with the ease of understanding. Other than that, nice. I like it.

  2. It doesn't "explain" anything. It also doesn't "describe" anything. It does, however, illustrate the various fates of water delivered through a distribution system and categorizes them as "Revenue" or "Non Revenue". My guess is that most people would look at this illustration and assume that Non-Revenue water is a large percentage of the total volume put into the system. An AWWA survey from 2002 of 96 water systems that served more than 100,000 persons resulted in an average Non-Revenue water of 12.4% of the total volume put into the system. Your bubble for Non-Revenue Water definitely does not look like 12% of the total. You apparently didn't scale the size of the bubble to be representative of their portion of the total volume. The illustration may leave many with a very skewed impression of those percentages.

  3. I think ratios are a bit distorted - but this is fine. The issue is that there is no incentives to reduce NRW as all losses are passed onto consumers are the resource (water) is free of charge. The systematically best results have companies that BUY water from bulk companies (china and south africa) - as water is not free for them, etc.

  4. Nice chart, but it is not original. It appears nearly identical to a key chart from the AWWA M36 Water Loss Control Manual.

  5. I like the diagram and passed it onto our Water Loss Audit folks. Rather than 'Leakage from reservoirs', my thought, based on Tx experience, is that it would be 'Leakage from canals'. For instance, Houston diverts from the Trinity river into its canal which then goes to a WTP. Prior to the diversion of water from the river or a reservoir (Lake Houston, for instance) the water is considered "State water" and any evaporation or leakage wouldn't count against what Houston could divert as the reservoir isn't part of Houston's system. I guess leakage from a small post-diversion conveyance/storage reservoir, like the canal, could be considered losses out of the system. Not sure of a recommended substitute that would fit in the box. In any case, nice diagram.

  6. Nice looking chart. Enter unpaid bills on the right, and it gets even more colorful.

  7. Is water used by the Water Department (like for cleaning,back-flushing, flushing lines) typically metered? If not, is it included in the AWWA observation of 12.4% unmetered? Or is it just ignored?

  8. @Brian -- Good point, but it's meant to clarify the categories, not actual stats (which very around the world). I'm guessing that the AWWA XLS could be used to make a picture of proper scale for average US utilities and/or any given one...

    @AD -- VERY good point!

    @KK -- Trunk includes canals, but you're right :)

    @Ak -- Ack!

    @Jim -- it's usually included (losses out of system? unmetered but free?)

  9. I guess, 21st October 2016, exactly three years, is a good time to review the chart once again. My personal consideration is Water is a global issue. Essentially, certain natural resources, if not all, like Carbon, Petroleum, Sunlight, Water etc could be segregated by geography only for logical and administrative management of efficient handling by local administrator. But, its time, that educators, implementors, environment friends, root cause analyzers, economic and policial decision makers do not make a concerted effort to ensure its not kept local and segregated, we would keep failing to connect the missing links! Now that thoughts have matured in this subject, for me, this chart actually provides a clear perspective of "Invisible loss of $" - should be termed as "revenue"(in the real value of the term) over a DMA. The chart may not have the visibiility or consideration for losses over agricultural fields or hydrants. Trust me, there are places where, pottable drinking water are used for agricultural purpose and almost in 75% - 80% of the total volume distributed; essentially since there has never been any segregation between the land and the homes built on the land - and no one ever paid neither for the water nor even for the electricity usage for such distribution. Whats worse sanitation and relevant WASH concerns could be appropriately reviewed if we review Dr. Zetland's presented cubes independently and connect the cubes to their hierarchy. I am still referencing this chart to get along with my workshops on Water Data Analytics over DMA.

    1. Here's some more advanced thinking on "non-revenue" water: http://www.thesourcemagazine.org/why-loss-calculations-must-include-opportunity-costs/

  10. This article along with"the end of abundance.." could be used as a BPR (business process re-engineering) guideline on financial reporting with detailed budget / planning especially for sustainable industrial development factors. "Opportunity cost" calculation is usually reviewed in actual financial budget /planning as part of cost forecast heading under Asset cost revaluation. But, I am afraid if this has been a thoughtful exercise beyond a predefined percentage as part of financial accounting / long term budgeting process especially by infrastructure companies. It indeed is high time that "Finance" and "Operation" functions get aligned to think "out of the box" and figure out what actually are the real "assets" and what shd be the BOM of the "depreciation" or "reserve" or "provision" components - how do they become 12% or 20% or for that matter 100% on the date of stock costing. Unless corporates starts considering social responsibilities as part of their onus of national responsibility and revamp their thinking patterns to express in their financial books, the world would continue to crawl on the effective calculation of infrastructure economics.


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