Guilty as Charged: The California Drought is My Fault

Dec. 17, 2015

“What gets measured gets managed” is a business truism attributed to the great Peter Drucker.

I have to agree that it’s true, both in the professional world, and in one’s personal life. Let’s look at water use. If you aren’t billed for water loss and no one is keeping track of the water one uses or loses, will there be incentive to save it?

I don’t think so.

In the water utility world, this is called “non-revenue water.” Non-revenue water is generally referred to as water loss that occurs between the utility and the meter.

"What gets measured gets managed" is a business truism attributed to the great Peter Drucker. I have to agree that it's true, both in the professional world, and in one's personal life. Let's look at water use. If you aren't billed for water loss and no one is keeping track of the water one uses or loses, will there be incentive to save it? I don't think so. In the water utility world, this is called "non-revenue water." Non-revenue water is generally referred to as water loss that occurs between the utility and the meter. [text_ad] Though I hate to admit it, I have been guilty of harboring a water waster in my home for years. You see, I, like a lot of people, had a leaky toilet. It was supposed to be one of those water-saver toilets; but when the flapper valve developed a leak a few years ago; all the savings go down the drain (pun intended). Some of you advanced water engineers might be wondering, "why not just fix it?" Trust me, I tried to find parts; but this low-flow model from 1982 imported from Sweden no longer had parts available. Fixing it required jackhammering the slab of my condo, moving the flange from a 0-inch offset to a 12-inch offset, It was a major job. According to the EPA, 10% of homes have leaks that waste more than 90 gallons of water a day. Fixing a leak can save a homeowner about 10% on their water bill. We can go on and on about this, but the bottom line is I waited years to get my leak fixed. So why did I wait so long to repair the toilet? Two reasons: 1) It was an expensive job. 2) The homeowners association (HOA) is installing individual meters in 2016. I wasn't being held accountable for my water use and loss. My community didn't have individual water meters. Our HOA picks up the tab on water and then divides it equally among the members. In my case, the water utility is getting paid, but the HOA was not able to identify problem users like me. It's not fair to my neighbors if I waste water; but they each pick up 1/40th of the extra water use, as our HOA has 40 equal members. But now that individual meters are going in, my water use will be reflected on my bill, and I risk being drought shamed. Last week, water professionals from 40 states and 60 countries around the world convened in Atlanta at the North American Water Loss Conference. Over 500 water professionals attended the inaugural American Water Works Association (AWWA) event sponsored by the group's Georgia chapter. Although I didn't get a chance to make it out there, Forester Media's publisher, Dan Waldman, attended. Dan reported that he was impressed both with the conference attendees, and the quality of the sessions. As the end of 2015 nears, we've got exciting times ahead in the world of Water Efficiency. Some topics we will be diving into in coming months include: leak detection, district metering, pressure management, water audits, water conservation, and new ways water utilities can partner with other utilities to realize additional savings for both water and power. We've got a lot in store for you, but before I sign off; were you at the North American Water Loss Conference? What did you think of it, and what do you want to read more about? 

Though I hate to admit it, I have been guilty of harboring a water waster in my home for years. You see, I, like a lot of people, had a leaky toilet. It was supposed to be one of those water-saver toilets; but when the flapper valve developed a leak a few years ago; all the savings go down the drain (pun intended).

Some of you advanced water engineers might be wondering, “why not just fix it?” Trust me, I tried to find parts; but this low-flow model from 1982 imported from Sweden no longer had parts available. Fixing it required jackhammering the slab of my condo, moving the flange from a 0-inch offset to a 12-inch offset, It was a major job.

According to the EPA, 10% of homes have leaks that waste more than 90 gallons of water a day. Fixing a leak can save a homeowner about 10% on their water bill. We can go on and on about this, but the bottom line is I waited years to get my leak fixed.

So why did I wait so long to repair the toilet? Two reasons: 1) It was an expensive job. 2) The homeowners association (HOA) is installing individual meters in 2016.

I wasn’t being held accountable for my water use and loss. My community didn’t have individual water meters. Our HOA picks up the tab on water and then divides it equally among the members. In my case, the water utility is getting paid, but the HOA was not able to identify problem users like me. It’s not fair to my neighbors if I waste water; but they each pick up 1/40th of the extra water use, as our HOA has 40 equal members.

But now that individual meters are going in, my water use will be reflected on my bill, and I risk being drought shamed.

Last week, water professionals from 40 states and 60 countries around the world convened in Atlanta at the North American Water Loss Conference. Over 500 water professionals attended the inaugural American Water Works Association (AWWA) event sponsored by the group’s Georgia chapter.

Although I didn’t get a chance to make it out there, Forester Media’s publisher, Dan Waldman, attended. Dan reported that he was impressed both with the conference attendees, and the quality of the sessions.

As the end of 2015 nears, we’ve got exciting times ahead in the world of Water Efficiency.

Some topics we will be diving into in coming months include: leak detection, district metering, pressure management, water audits, water conservation, and new ways water utilities can partner with other utilities to realize additional savings for both water and power. We’ve got a lot in store for you, but before I sign off; were you at the North American Water Loss Conference? What did you think of it, and what do you want to read more about? 
About the Author

David Rachford

David Rachford is the web editor for Forester Media.

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