CA water pros unveil new framework to help utilities better control water losses

The largest association of California drinking water professionals recently announced the formation of a program -- the California Water Loss Control Collaborative -- to educate and assist state drinking water agencies in understanding and reducing losses of precious water.

Oct 7th, 2015

Oct. 7, 2015 -- The largest association of California drinking water professionals recently announced the formation of a program -- the California Water Loss Control Collaborative -- to educate and assist state drinking water agencies in understanding and reducing unnecessary losses of precious water.

The American Water Works Association's California-Nevada Section (CA-NV AWWA) stated that the program will be a far-reaching framework designed to unify and expand independent water loss initiatives in order to meet the goals of new legislation currently awaiting action by Governor Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 555 (SB 555), by Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis, Calif., will require approximately 450 of the largest water agencies in the state to submit validated water audits annually to the Department of Water Resources, with the validation of data certified by an expert in the field. The bill was approved by the state legislature earlier this month and awaits action by the governor.

"The AWWA water audit process touches many aspects of water utility operations, and we know that almost all water utilities will need some amount of training and technical support," said Sue Mosburg, chair of CA-NV AWWA. "Ultimately we want all utilities to develop strong water loss control programs [that] regularly and accurately assess the opportunities to reduce water loss. Having a good, validated audit is a crucial first step."

The Water Loss Control Collaborative represents an initial 30-month plan of training, technical review and assistance, and extensive outreach to water agency staff. The plan was developed under the guidance of a steering committee with representatives from water utilities, the Environmental Protection Agency, State Water Resources Control Board, California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC), California Department of Water Resources (DWR), and consultants with expertise in water loss control.

Water loss control, leak detection and related utility management practices will be taught in workshops designed to share water loss best practices between utilities. Partially modeled on a successful statewide water loss control program in Georgia, the plan takes a two-pronged approach to meet utilities at their level of experience with the water loss control concepts. The collaborative recognizes the efforts of California utilities that have already compiled water audits following the AWWA M36 methodology using the AWWA Water Audit Software.

According to Tim Worley, executive director of CA-NV AWWA, the program should help DWR meet its obligations under SB 555, which Brown is widely expected to sign before an October 11 deadline. Worley explained, "SB 555 calls on DWR to aid water utilities with training and technical assistance, and our program is tailor-made to meet that goal. The bill would also require DWR to collect and review hundreds of system water audits annually, and because this program will raise the quality of those audits, it will be a huge service to the Department."

About 130 California water agencies have previously submitted water audit results to CUWCC in compliance with a recognized best management practice. The program spearheaded by CA-NV AWWA is designed to follow and eventually merge two tracks -- one for the "early adopters" and a less advanced track for all of the agencies that are just getting starting with this new systematic approach.

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