•FLORIDA WATER RESOURCES JOURNAL•FEBRUARY 1996
district to locate leakage indications. If the subdivision is doneat night, usage is not expected to be high and anytime a highrate is measured, that area is then checked for leakage thesame way that it is done in a listening survey.The benefits of a water audit are:•Training of personnel in a water audit•Check condition of valves•Check condition of valve boxes•Check condition of hydrants•Update maps and recordsThere are benefits to any type of leakage program. For adistribution system using 2.0 mgd with a 20% (400,000 gpd)unaccounted-for rate, if half of the unaccounted-for can berecovered through a leak survey, that means:A. Water for 3,000 new residents @65 gpdB. An additional 1,000 gpm for 3 hours of fire fightingC. Savings on production costs if nothing additionally is doneD. Delay or reduction in size of new facilities
Puzzle Piece #2—InaccurateMaster Meters
It should be obvious that accurate master meters are neededto determine your unaccounted-for water. Some of the thingsthat can cause inaccurate master meters are:•Wear—due to quality or quantity of water•Improper installation—turbulence•Improper gearing in register head•Wrong register•Reading errors•Entrained air in the water•Jetting action at the meterMaster meters can be tested either by using a comparativemeter tester or an in-line rodmeter. A comparative test meter,if properly sized, can be very accurate, but the test metershould be tested volumetrically before or after each test. Arodmeter used in-line with the master meter allows the meterto be tested at the regular flow rates and does not requireshutting the meter down for testing.
Puzzle Piece #3—InaccurateIndustrial Meters
Industrial meters and master meters have the same prob-lems with inaccuracies. In addition, industrial meters canhave an additional source of error if they are compound metersoperating in the changeover range of the meter. Meter sizing isimportant for industrial meters.
Puzzle Piece #4—InaccurateCommercial Meters
Commercial meters are subject to the same problems thatindustrial meters face. Commercial meters can be more difficultto properly size than industrial meters because they may beusing over a shorter period of time which gives a wider rangebetween peak and low flows through the meter.
Puzzle Piece #5—InaccurateDomestic Meters
Domestic meters have fewer problems than are found withlarger meters, but the problems can be serious. Domesticmeters are subject to wear due to water quantity and quality,improper gearing or wrong registers and reading or billingerrors. Domestic meters are also subject to poor readings atlow flows and a significant amount of the water passingthrough a domestic meter can be at low flows. As much as 2%of a system’s unaccounted-for water can be due to under-registration of low flows on domestic meters.
Puzzle Piece #6—Unauthorized Use
Unauthorized use is an area often overlooked in trying toreduce unaccounted-for water. Unauthorized use can consistof: Unmetered use by contractors; unauthorized or unmeteredconnections; and theft by bypassing meters.Unauthorized use, especially in older systems, can be one of the most difficult areas to eliminate in trying to reduce unac-counted-for water.
Puzzle Piece #7—Use From Hydrants
The major uses from hydrants include flushing streets andsewers and fire fighting. In some areas, landscaping firms usewater from hydrants for watering new landscaping. Fillingswimming pools is another area where fire hydrants may beused and contribute to unaccounted-for water. Any reasonableestimates made of these uses can help reduce your unac-counted-for water.
Puzzle Piece #8—UnavoidableLeakage
Unavoidable leakage is underground leakage that costsmore to locate and repair than it would to permit it to exist.This definition means that unavoidable leakage can be differ-ent rates in different locations. Present AWWA standards are3,000 gpd per mile of main. This is mainly due to small jointand service leaks that are very difficult to locate at these lowrates of flow.
Puzzle Piece #9—Unusual Causes
This final piece of the puzzle is the “catch all” for the thingsthat don’t fit any of the other puzzle pieces. Included in thispiece of the puzzle is: recirculating water—water pumped intoa pressure zone with an open valve which allows the water torecirculate without being consumed; not accounting for treat-ment plant use; estimated pumpage due to inaccurate ornonexistent meters; leakage in reservoirs, ground storagetanks or elevated storage tanks; and unintentional inter-system connections—water passing through unrecorded oremergency connections to other distribution systems.
Unaccounted-for water is born from poor maintenance andcan die from effective maintenance. In order to put RIP tounaccounted-for water, you need to:
–Review what the accounted-for water is in your system
–Identify areas of unaccounted-for water
– Purge the system to remove as much unaccounted-for aspossible and reach acceptable limits.
Paul V. Johnson, P.E. is with The Pitometer Associates, Orlando.