Water articles are written by ADB staff and external contributors on various water issues, reforms, and good practices.

Global Integrated Method: A Quick Way to Cutting Down Nonrevenue Water
October 2006

By Hubert Jenny Senior Urban Development Specialist The Global Integrated Method (GIM) for reducing a water company's nonrevenue water delivers quick results, cutting down water losses by half within a year. It's short, simple, systematic, and contributes to a better working knowledge of how a water utility's water supply system and distribution network operate. NONREVENUE WATER DEFINED Nonrevenue Water or NRW is the total volume of water that a water company does not receive compensation for. It represents the sum of physical and commercial losses and water used for free (see Table below) in a water operation and is a good indicator of the performance of a water company. A low NRW rate means that the water company is doing well in its operations, while a high NRW rate means that the company is in dire need of an NRW project. An NRW project's purposes are to Compute and lessen the water lost in operations. Optimize assets through rehabilitations and maintenance. Delay additional capital investments for new production facilities to meet the increasing water demand, and limit future water tariff increases. NRW is inherent in any water distribution system, which is always under pressure to distribute water to consumers despite its water losses, and prevent the contamination of the treated water with bacteria and other germs that can enter the system through leakages. It is also prone to breaking down over time and a lack of maintenance will result in additional losses. NRW includes known and identified consumption under Authorized Consumption Not Invoiced, such as water used for reservoir cleaning and network maintenance free authorized consumption such at water obtained from public stand pipes and water used for fire fighting, irrigation, street cleaning, and other public uses This table2 summarizes the different water usages and the definition and nature of the losses:


Authorized Consumption Invoice (ACI) Authorized Consumption Not Invoiced (ACNI)

ACI Metered ACI Non-Metered ACI Metered ACI Non Metered Illegal Users

Volume Invoiced


Commercial Losses

Under-Metered and Losses on Invoices Losses on Reservoirs


Physical Losses

Visible Losses Invisible Losses

GLOBAL INTEGRATED METHOD FOR NRW The Global and Integrated Method (GIM) is a short-term solution to NRW. It delivers quick results on both physical and commercial losses through an operational approach. It focuses on identifying and quantifying all the different types of losses, and defining a prioritized program of mitigation strategies designed to maximize a water company's revenues. GIM requires that a distribution network be divided into sectors or zones that are flexible in size, depending on what causes NRW for that specific sector. It is either done on a pilot area as part of a project preparation technical assistance, or over the entire water system as part of project implementation. One of the main advantages of GIM is that the method does not require a physical restructuring of the network and is therefore nondestructive and driven within the current operating environment. In general, NRW can be roughly distributed into Commercial Losses: 20 to 30% Physical Visible Losses: 20 to 30% Physical Invisible Losses: 40 to 70% GIM prioritizes both commercial and physical visible losses, as determining their causes will lead to a better understanding of the entire distribution network and water supply system. It follows a series of steps: Audit, Action Plan, Implementation, and Training. GIM AUDIT: DOING THE MATH GIM is done on a predefined pilot area or over the entire water supply system, which should initially be audited following these steps: Set the baseline. The operator and staff of the water company should work together to collect and update technical and commercial information on the production and distribution system. The objective is to define a "baseline" water flow. This can be done by consolidating surveys and reports with critical analyses on the coherence of collected data, and site visits to reconcile network maps, identify faulty equipment and accessories, and determine key monitoring pressure and flow points. Divide system into sectors or zones. Pressure and hydraulic zones, with sectors of 50 to 100 kilometers of linear network, should be defined and isolated. Macrometers will be installed on all the entry and exit points in the sectors or main transmission pipes to determine the volume of water produced by the system. The accuracy of the macrometers will be validated by comparing their readings. Calculate initial NRW index. The water balance between water produced and sold should be calculated to determine the baseline and monitor the level of success of the NRW Project over time. This NRW Index can also be used in developing the action plan; some action will result in better NRW Index than others. GIM ACTION PLAN AND IMPLEMENTATION After defining the baseline, computing the initial NRW Index, and finalizing the water company's audit, an action plan based on return on investment to reduce NRW must be drawn up and implemented. This involves the following activities:

Detect and repair leakages. Leakage detection and repair reduces both visible and invisible physical losses within a short time period. The public's help must be sought in reporting visible leaks, such as in public toilets, fire hydrants, exposed pipes, and others, so that prompt action to repair these can be made and also involve public participation. Detecting invisible losses, on the other hand, requires sophisticated technology and properly trained staff. Repair works can be extensive and need to be evaluated through cost-benefit analysis. Regulate water pressure. Pressure regulators designed specifically for the network's hydraulic model can be installed at strategic locations on the network to optimize the operating pressure during the peak demand and reduce the NRW, especially at night. Additional interconnections can also alleviate pressure and, therefore, reduce NRW. Update consumer database and optimize micrometers. Field surveys can help update the consumer database and provide quantitative and qualitative data on the performance of household or micrometers, and discover anomalies due to improper installations or discrepancy between the diameter of house connection and meter size, type or class. In addition, they help build water consumption profiles for different categories of users, and optimize the reading cycle of meters and rotation of meter readers. Identify large water users. A large water user is characterized by a connection diameter above 25 mm and consumption of over 300 m3/day. A standard household of about four people generally consumes about 30 m3/month. Usually, large water users constitute about 5% of the total number of consumers, but accounts for 20% of the water invoiced. Any change in their water demand and consumption pattern need to be anticipated, since it will have a significant impact on the water company's operations, both technical and financial. Identify illegal users. Identifying the illegal users can be done through field surveys, and a cross analysis of the consumers' database with a consumer survey. A geographic information system linked to the consumers' database and the cadastral database can assist in finding illegal users. Optimize systems and procedures. Commercial losses are often linked to poor administrative processes and procedures, such as invoice and billing mistakes. Audit and restructuring of the administrative and billing procedures are necessary steps for NRW reduction. Always calculate NRW. The NRW Index should be calculated every month to evaluate the efficiency of the action plans' implementation against targets. Train and share the technology: An NRW project is a continuous improvement process. Hands-on training and workshops on different leakage reduction techniques used internationally can help improve a water company's use of the GIM for NRW. A pilot project in two districts of Ho Chi Minh City, funded by the French Government, has recently demonstrated the significant NRW reduction and financial savings resulting from the GIM approach. RELATED LINKS Reducing Nonrevenue Water in Asia: A Governance Challenge NRW Projects: The Hide-and-Seek Game Can Quickly Turn Around Revenues

This article was excerpted from "Non Revenue Water: Lost Cause or Opportunity? Global Integrated Method vs. District Method Area".

*This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in October 2006: