M36 Water Audits and Loss Control Programs

4th Edition now published

The new fourth edition of American Water Works Association manual, Water Audits and Loss Control Programs (M36), is an increasingly vital tool for running effective water loss control programs in North America. This resource optimises a utility’s ability to discover how much water it is losing due to leakage, meter error, or water theft. With a clear explanation of the IWA/AWWA water audit methodology and some of the best current loss control techniques, this manual empowers water professionals to determine the cost of uncaptured revenue from non-revenue water (NRW) and minimise future losses. M36 uses progressive thinking and solutions on the journey to more accountable water management in North America.

cover 2

The 405 pages of M36 provide a thorough and detailed perspective of how the IWA/AWWA practical approach to water loss management is being actively promoted and implemented in North America. Whilst numerous large water utilities serve North America’s metropolitan areas, the vast majority of the 52,000 water utilities are classified as small systems (populations less than 10,000). The AWWA Water Loss Control Committee recommended adoption of the IWA methodology in 2003, and since then have been building a substantial foundation for training and implementing a common approach in each of the 50 states in the U.S.A and 10 provinces in Canada.

Even for seasoned international readers who may be unfamiliar with non-metric units (US gallons for volume/flow, p.s.i. for pressure, miles and feet for distance), there are many interesting aspects which make this manual still worthy of their attention The ‘free to all’ Water Audit software, launched in 2006, now in its 5th (2014) version, is available here, with a metric units option. This software provides a common basis for water balance and KPI calculations; data validity scores are the AWWA’s chosen route to try to assess and improve reliability of these calculations. For World Water Day, the AWWA participated in a Summit at the White House in Washington DC, and as part of this, AWWA issued a challenge to 1,000 North American water utilities to utilize the free software, with an additional element of validation review, and submit their data for posting at the AWWA website.

The Water Loss Control Committee and the State of Georgia have already published audited water balance and performance indicators data for named Utilities; see for example North American ILIs, which can now increasingly be compared with international leakage management performance at Global ILIs. In a validated 2014 North American data set of 236 systems, 150 (63%) had an ILI less than 3, and 90 (38%) had an ILI less than 2. Further evidence of the proactive #waterloss movement in North America is demonstrated by the large (500 plus) attendance at specialist conferences such as at Atlanta in December 2015.

There is an emphasis on financial costs of NRW, and M36 promotes the use of Value of NRW as a % of annual cost of running the system, whilst clearly identifying the failings of Volume of NRW as a % of System Input Volume. Component analysis of real losses has been available and used by consultants for over 20 years, but the Water Research Foundation Leakage Component Analysis (LCA) Model the first freely available to anyone and is explained in M36.

Relatively little pressure management has been carried out to date in North America, but the M36 Manual recognises, from international case studies and improved predictive concepts, the increasing potential of this approach in North America. Pressure data collected for UARL and ILI calculation for 233 systems in the State of Georgia showed an average pressure of 76 psi (53 metres) with the 91 highest pressure systems having an average of 98 psi (69 metres).

The AWWA Water Loss Control Committee, the Technical Review Board members who finalized the Manual, and the many volunteers who drafted, edited and provided the significant and critical commentary essential to updating a manual of this magnitude, are to be congratulated on a considerable achievement and a valuable addition to international NRW management.

Thanks to George Kunkel, Will Jernigan and Alain Lalonde for assistance with the content of this Blog, and to Missy Ramey of AWWA staff for the .jpg image of the M36 cover art.

AWWA M36 updated