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drought in Brazil

Guidance for Water Utilities to Validate Water Audits

drought in BrazilAs water utilities are increasingly focusing on controlling water loss because of the ongoing drought in part of the US, the Water Research Foundation has launched a project aimed at developing a standard method to validate water audits and guidance for utilities and governing agencies in implementing a water audit validation program.

The project, Establishing Water Utility Guidance and Methodology for Water Audit Validation (Project #4639), will analyze precisely how and to what extent water audit validations are currently being conducted by utilities and/or regulatory agencies and then use that information to create a guidance document for validation programs.

Last week lawmakers in California signed legislation that requires all urban water suppliers in California to conduct annual water loss audits and submit the results to the Department of Water Resources for public review. American Water Works Association’s Water Audit Methodology will be used as the standard for California water utilities to meet volume water loss performance standards by July of 2020.

As California is one of the first states to implement regulation along this subject, little guidance has been given as to how utilities can implement a successful validation program.

“Water audits are a first step in developing a comprehensive water loss control program, and therefore having sound audits is of the utmost importance to both the water industry and local communities they support throughout the United States,” said Rob Renner, executive director for the Water Research Foundation. “With this research, we hope to define a proper data validation process that gives greater confidence to the reported results and more reliable information for benchmarking.”

Although self-reporting is a common element for many environmental programs implemented by the water industry, data validation can provide more reliable information for decision-making and better data for analysis. As outlined in WRF project #4372b, Water Audits in the United States: A Review of Water Losses and Data Validity, data submitted by five states requiring water loss reporting showed more than 20 percent of audits present an implausible water loss scenario. This suggests that the data used to populate these audits may not be accurate. The research shows that more training and education is needed to improve confidence in water loss reporting.

To guide water utilities on the future implementation of water audit validation programs, Project #4639 will research the most updated literature into the methodologies, standards and procedures of data validation in the water community and other industries. The project will develop case studies of the most successful data validation programs and create a step-by-step guide on the parameters water utilities must take into consideration to establish a successful program and meet the appropriate industry standards, WRF says.

Photo Credit: drought via Shutterstock


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