NRW Management and

Misperceptions in the USA

Changing attitudes to NRW through Outreach

The Water Loss Control Committee (WLCC) of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) recommended adoption of the IWA Water Balance and Performance Indicators in 2003. Since then, key practical and internationally applicable NRW management solutions have been actively promoted and disseminated to many thousands of Utilities in nearly 30 States and Provinces in the USA and Canada, through coordinated Outreach efforts by the WLCC. This brief update summarises some key initiatives and recent activities. Some of the approaches and perspectives may be of interest to other countries.

Early activities of the AWWA WLCC included an article in the AWWA Journal on the 2003 Committee Report; dissemination of the practical principles through existing AWWA State Section training programs; a revised 3rd Edition in 2009 of the M36 Manual ‘Water Audits and Loss Control Programs’ (4th Edition now in final draft); and the development of a Free Water Audit Software for use by all, to promote consistency of audit calculations. The IWA/AWWA practices were also promoted through regular session papers at the AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition and specialty conferences, and the principles began to be adopted by a number of State and Regional Water Agencies, with California, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and the Delaware River Basin Commission leading the way.

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Slides courtesy of Will Jernigan

The AWWA Free Water Audit Software© (first released in 2006, now version 5.0 with over 2000 issued copies) emphasises the need for data validation when assessing the volumes and $ values of individual NRW components. In 2011, the WLCC began to publish validated annual Water Balance and PI data for named volunteer Water Utilities across USA and Canada, followed by validated data from the State of Georgia in 2013 (

Communicating the IWA/AWWA Water Balance terminology and new and unfamiliar PIs to Utilities, media and legislators who are used to now outdated terminology such as ‘UFW as % of volume’ (previously calculated in different ways in different states) is a major ongoing undertaking, requiring patience and clear communication with stakeholders. A recent podcast ( ‘Non Revenue Water and its Misperception’ posted on Dave McGimpsey’s ‘Water Values’ website by the Chair of the Outreach Sub-committee for the WLCC, takes the listener step by step through the components of the Water Balance. Then the ‘Volume, Value and Validity’ approach, being used for identifying NRW reduction based on component analysis and return on investment, is explained, to show why %s by volume are no longer recognised as being ‘fit for purpose’ performance indicators.

Since 2003, the WLCC’s efforts have been consistently supported by many international colleagues in the IWA Water Loss Specialist Group (WLSG), with regular networking to compare and contrast ongoing experiences of evolving worldwide best practices, such as advance pressure management for reduction of breaks and extension of asset life. Some of this international networking effort will be reflected in the upcoming 4th Edition of the M36 Manual. North America is one of 10 regions worldwide where the IWA WLSG has appointed Ken Brothers (Canada), a former Chair of the IWA Water Loss Task Force, as a North American regional representative to foster this interaction.

Ten years after the IWA Water Loss 2005 Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the first North American Water Loss Conference and Exhibition dedicated solely to Water Loss management will be held in Atlanta in December 8th/9th 2015 ( Why not join us to see how NRW management is changing and progressing in North America? Early Bird registration ends 28th September.

Guest blog by

Ken Brothers, IWA Water Loss Specialist Group Regional Representative

George Kunkel, Chair of M36 Water Audit Guidance Manual Sub-committee

Steve Cavanaugh, Chair of AWWA WLCC Outreach Sub-committee

Will Jernigan, Chair of AWWA Free Water Audit Software Sub-committee)

NRW in USA update