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Non-revenue water

Water efficiency

Water management

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3. March 2021

Reducing urban water losses

How water utilities can improve efficiency and meet future demand for water
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It is costly to produce and distribute water, and for growing cities, this is particularly problematic, as expanding the water distribution networks without reducing urban water losses effectively means expanding a cycle of costly non-revenue water (NRW) and risking the utility’s financial viability.

Today, 25-50 % of all distributed water globally is lost or never invoiced due to e.g.:

  • illegal connections
  • inaccurate billing systems
  • inaccurate metering
  • leakages
  • low quality and deteriorating infrastructure
  • a lack of proper pressure management

Saving that water is a matter of investment and mentality as several aspects need to be addressed, including:

  • the initial planning phase to the day-to-day operations
  • increased public awareness about the value of having a stable and efficient water supply
  • the use of high-quality equipment, good installation, and workmanship

Denmark has enacted such measures and managed to contain urban water loss to less than 8 % as well as reduce household consumption by 40 % since 1980. To keep the non-revenue water level low, utilities keep a continuous focus on monitoring and optimising water distribution. This is done through a network that is divided into smaller and more manageable units known as District Metered Areas (DMAs). The more water distribution data there is available and the better the management system is integrated, the easier it is to gain the necessary overview of the non-revenue water and subsequently prioritise investments and holistically plan projects.

Key take-aways

  • Gain insight into the practicalities of reducing urban water losses
  • Gain an overview of how and which solutions and actions have been implemented with successful results, in Denmark and around the world

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