Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) Tracking Tool
What is the AWE Tracking Tool?
The Tracking Tool is an Excel based model that was developed by the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a North American non-profit organization located in Chicago that is dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water. The Tracking Tool can be used by water utilities to evaluate the water savings, costs, and benefits of a water conservation program. The AWE Tracking Tool was designed to be easily accessible and operate in a user friendly interface. Its dynamic spreadsheets allow the user to quickly modify inputs and receive immediate feedback. The methodology and programming are open-source and described in detail in the Tracking Tool's User Guide.
After the required utility data is entered into the Tracking Tool, users are ready to begin exploring the impacts of a variety of water conservation programs. To assist utilities with the calculations, the tool includes a library of pre-defined water conservation activities from which a user can build a portfolio of measures. Additionally, the tool can be used to create custom programs from scratch, and can be used to track existing programs.
Summary of AWE Tracking Tool operations:
- Quickly compare alternative conservation measures in terms of their water savings potential, impact on system costs, and potential benefits to utility customers.
- Develop long-range conservation plans. Construct conservation portfolios containing up to 50 separate conservation program activities.
- Track the implementation, water savings, costs, and benefits of actual conservation activities over time.
- Evaluate a utility's changing revenue requirement with conservation.
Why use this Tracking Tool? What are the benefits?
The Tracking Tool is a great resource that helps water utilities plan cost effective conservation programs. Water conservation and efficiency programs are excellent strategies for protecting and managing the quantity of a water supply and often allow utilities to shave peak demand and avoid expensive supply and treatment expansion projects.
Conservation programs are often criticized due to the reduced water sales and a resulting loss in revenue. The Tracking Tool includes a component that displays the impact to revenue, water rates, and customer bills under both a 20 year financing and pay-as-you go regime. While not designed to plan new rate structures it helps the user understand the steps needed to prevent utility revenue loss and customer rate shock.
The Tracking Tool is only available to members of the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE). Additionally the Alliance for Water Efficiency does provide technical assistance (1 hour) for the Tracking Tool to AWE members.
AWE Staff Contact: Bill Christiansen: firstname.lastname@example.org 773.360.5100
CMAP Staff Contact: Amy Talbot: email@example.com 312.386.8646
IWA/AWWA Utility Water Audit
What is a water audit?
A water audit tracks how efficient water moves through a distribution system and is often the first step toward managing water loss. Based on the finding of a water audit, leak detection and repair, meter recalibration, and a review of billing practices may be possible next steps.
The International Water Association (IWA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) have partnered to produce a water audit methodology, along with FREE water audit software to help utilities track water usage. At the end of the IWA/AWWA water audit process, a utility will have an estimate of system water loss (in gallons) and the associated revenue loss.
The water balance graphic illustrates the different components of the IWA/AWWA audit methodology.
Why use the IAW/AWWA audit? What are the benefits?
To achieve greater supply-side revenue, a utility needs to have a detailed understanding of its water loss. With this understanding, a utility can make more informed decisions about how money is spent and prioritized regarding infrastructure upgrades, leak detection efforts and repairs, repair and replacement of meters, and billing systems upgrades. This audit goes beyond traditional audit methodologies to calculate not only water loss but the associated revenue loss for both real and apparent losses (defined above in graphic).
Water audits are particularly useful for communities that are approaching peak capacity, have unsustainable long-term water supply issues or other similar situations. In these cases, a water audit could assist in recovering additional units of water (through water loss management) that delay expensive system expansion or avoid the financial burden of obtaining additional water sources.
Regional Example: Joliet, Illinois
Joliet has taken water loss management past the audit phase into leak detection and repair. The below paragraph describes the city's progress, both from a monetary and water saving perspective.
Joliet historically performs annual leak surveys throughout its system. Due to other critical priorities, the survey was not completed from 2006 through 2009. In the fall of 2009, ME Simpson was hired to perform a new survey. The focus was in the older sections of their distribution system, parts of which are over 100 years old. This situation was compounded by the city's location over shallow bedrock, which makes leak identification more complicated as often leaks do not surface. Of the 375 miles of water main in the city of Joliet, 180 miles were surveyed for phase one of the leak detection program. The survey uncovered 149 leaks with an estimated water loss of 1.73 MGD accounting for 13.3% of their average daily pumpage. To put it in plain terms, Joliet had to run one additional well just to sustain the leaks. Based on these estimates an annualized water loss cost of $918,354.00 or a wholesale cost of $1.45/1000 gallons was calculated yielding a return on interest timeframe for the survey of 15 days. Phase two was completed later in the year with similar findings. In sum Joliet identified 1.998 MGD in water loss, accounting for 15.3% of their annual pumpage. By repairing these leaks the city will save $1,057,822 in estimated annual wholesale costs. Because new leaks continually develop, annual leak surveys play a critical part of Joliet's Operations & Management plan for maintenance of its aging water system.
The saying "garbage in, garbage out" applies to water audits. The results of any water audit are only as reliable as the data provided for the audit. To assist with data quality control, the audit's methodology instructs the utility to score the quality of data used along a quantified range (1-10). This scoring function allows a utility to assess the quality of internal data and provides a structure to guide future data quality improvements.
The IWA/AWWA audit methodology differs from the Illinois Department of Natural Resource, Office of Water Resources (IDNR/OWR) audit methodology that Lake Michigan utilities are required to fill out annually. In many ways the IWA/AWWA form is more comprehensive and provides more informative results to better prioritize water recovery/maintenance resources. It should be noted that these two methodologies are not directly comparable.
What other resources are available on this topic?
- Water Audits and Loss Control, M36, Third Edition, 2009
- Alliance for Water Efficiency Water Audit Case Studies
CMAP Staff Contact: Amy Talbot, firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.386.8646