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18.2 Distribution System Water Loss

This indicator measures the difference between the volume of water distributed for use by all customer classes and the volume of water actually billed to authorized users.

This indicator is part of Reliable water system.

Indicator description:

This indicator measures the difference between the volume of water distributed for use by all customer classes and the volume of water actually billed to authorized users. There are several key factors contributing to unaccounted-for-water. The major ones are leakage, metering inaccuracies, and unauthorized consumption. Only leakage is a true loss of water. Tracking water loss helps in understanding the condition of the distribution system infrastructure, and thus, its ability to efficiently convey water through the system to users.

Distribution System Water Loss - Apparent Losses
Fiscal Year 2009 2010 2011 2012
ABCWUA # Gallons Lost (in millions) 1.199 0.659 0.933 0.675
ABCWUA % of Produced Water Lost 3.8% 2.1% 2.8% 2.0%
Benchmark Industries Year Top Quartile Median Bottom Quartile
Combined Water/Sewer Utilities 2012 0.7% 3.2% 8.6%
Utilities with pop > 500,000 2012 1.7% 2.4% 10.5%

Utilities located in the western US

2012 1.6% 7.8% 9.3%
Distribution System Water Loss - Real Losses
Fiscal Year 2009 2010 2011 2012
ABCWUA # Gallons Lost (in millions) 2.785 1.817 1.615 1.600
ABCWUA % of Produced Water Lost 8.9% 5.7% 4.8% 4.8%
Benchmark Industries Year Top Quartile Median Bottom Quartile
Combined Water/Sewer Utilities 2012 0.0% 1.2% 7.0%
Utilities with pop > 500,000 2012 0.3% 4.7% 15.6%
Utilities located in the western US 2012 0.0% 2.8% 7.4%

 

Why is this indicator relevant?

A reliable water distribution system is critical for meeting health and safety needs of residents. Our distribution system is aging and still contains steel and cast iron lines from the 1950’s. Additionally, high density polyethylene service lines, used after this period, have a high potential for developing leaks. Given the value and scarcity of water in Albuquerque, like other Southwestern desert cities, the importance of sound infrastructure is even more important. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) has continued efforts begun when the Utility was operated by the City to replace small diameter steel water mains (which account for 44% of all leaks), HDPE and other mains that have a history of significant leaks. Mitigating leaks is a commitment to water conservation.

Sound infrastructure is necessary for long term economic development and sustainable use of our limited natural resources.


Data Sources:

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA), citing American Water Works Association (AWWA) Benchmarking survey.

What can we tell from the data?

  • The overall performance of the water system is within the median range for the last three fiscal years.
  • The percentage of apparent water loss has decreased from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2012 and is down significantly since fiscal year 2009. The actual water loss is stable since the overall production has decreased due to water conservation.
  • The community’s utility ranks between the median and the lowest quartile of utilities in the western United States and combined water and wastewater utilities, but is in the median for large utilities.

 

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