How to utilize limited resources to address water loss during a drought 

Meg Riley
Meg Riley September 27, 2022 4 min read

Leaks, bursts, and other non-revenue water problems are enduring, but tracking them down and addressing them is vital. Particularly in a drought, water loss becomes even more important for utilities and consultancies to track. Drought conditions and water scarcity mean that every single drop of water matters, so more water needs to be kept from leaking outside the piping system. But how do you track water loss, analyze the results, and standardize operating practices for your team with more efficiency?  

Info360 Insight, a modern SaaS platform for water utilities, includes Mass Balance and Infrastructure Leakage Index (ILI) tools, which allow you to ensure non-revenue water and leakage are kept at a minimum. An added benefit? Many utilities report and calculate their non-revenue water and perhaps even ILI scores on an annual basis, but Info360 Insight allows this reporting to be completed daily or even hourly, so you can deliver higher fidelity reporting and more precise metrics.  

The Mass Balance tool 

The mass balance tool within Info360 Insight measures all water movement through a defined area; it ensures all water can be accounted for. Additionally, by comparing usage with available billing information, you can identify areas with higher non-revenue water. And areas with high billing that aren’t being regularly used can tell utilities that water loss is likely occurring.  

The Mass Balance tool

Moreover, a water leak in your water distribution system has the potential to damage your entire water distribution system. So, it’s essential to monitor usage to detect leaks as soon as possible. But, it can be difficult when your team is monitoring usage manually using a spreadsheet. Info360 Insight integrates with other programs commonly used, such as:

And your data pulls in automatically, saving you time. It becomes easier to calculate water usage and loss in various areas. 

The Infrastructure Leakage Index tool 

Infrastructure Leakage Index (ILI) is a globally used calculation for water loss audits. ILI is calculated using Current Annual Real Losses (CARL) and Unavoidable Annual Real Losses (UARL), both of which are required for water loss audit reporting. The lower your ILI score is (a typical industry range between 1mA-5mA), the more efficient your network is behaving.

While Mass Balances looks at non-revenue water at an aggregate level, ILI (as developed and endorsed by AWWA) allows utilities to compare performance of smaller and larger pressure zones evenly.

Infrastructure Leakage Index tool

Why is this better than calculations used before? Because it accounts for other factors that the previous calculation above did not. 

ILI addresses the amount of water being lost and the cost of that lost water. For example, a utility may reduce pipe leaks, addressing the issue of water loss, as well as improve conservation practices, such as water reuse. Both of these things working together lower the total water supplied, which has a positive impact on non-revenue water volume. If measured in the form of “unaccounted-for” water, a utility’s calculations will be off. ILI factors in each of the changes a utility makes, providing more accurate calculations and assessment of next steps to address water loss issues. 

Furthermore, resources at a utility are valuable and limited – and we’re not just talking about the water. ILI and Mass Balance help utilities identify what and where their biggest water loss concerns are. With this information, your team can properly prioritize what areas of repair or replacement need attention by your work crews, to avoid wasting valuable resources better spent in other, high-priority, areas.  

Another valuable resource you’re saving on: time. Like Mass Balance, the ILI tool is automatic versus manual. It’s a user-build analytics program, meaning you can make decisions on what data you want to see and how it’s applied. This tool allows you to do your own analysis without a spreadsheet and, instead, pulls in data manually from your other sources. It provides ease of access to, and shareability of, all the information needed for your whole team. 

When water is needed most 

In the US, utility water loss audits are becoming mandated by law to keep utilities on track when it comes to water distribution management. Utilities monitoring and self-auditing water loss is particularly vital during drought season. Drought is a time to limit resources, like in any event where something valued is suffering or close to being lost. It’s also a time of crisis, so other valuable resources are limited: your time, energy, and budget. With the right tools and innovative technology, you can stretch the resources you have even further and address water loss concerns even faster at a time when water is needed most.