World Water Week 2017 – Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse

World Water Week 2017 – Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse

world-water-weekWorld Water Week is an annual event organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) that focuses on global water issues, and this year’s theme is “Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse.” The main event takes place in Stockholm, Sweden where experts, innovators, stakeholders, and young professionals from various sectors around the globe will come together to share ideas, foster relationships, and develop innovative solutions to the world’s most urgent water-related problems. In 2016, over 3,300 individuals and over 330 organizations from 130 countries around the world participated in World Water Week, and the expectation is that 2017 will see at least those numbers. Through this year’s theme, World Water Week is focusing on two targets addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including improving water quality and reducing waste by 2030 in order to help achieve sustainable development in a rapidly changing world.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is most commonly defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This means that we cannot meet our current needs at the expense or depletion of our natural resources. Degradation of water quality not only has a negative environmental effect, but also limits the water supply available for human usage. Therefore, we must develop and implement innovative solutions to improving water quality if we are to plan for a sustainable future. Fortunately, there exist easily implementable methodologies for improving water quality throughout the water environment.

Utilize mores sustainable water treatment technologies that limit environmental impact

Chemical additives have a significant impact on the health of the environment and its inhabitants. Implementing alternative treatment methodologies such as ozonation, ultraviolet radiation, and biological media helps to minimize the impact that water treatment has on our natural world, and protect our water supply for the future.

 

Minimize, and eventually eliminate, using drinking quality water for non-potable purposes

Producing drinking quality water utilizes a significant amount of energy, resources, and treatment chemicals, all of which have a negative impact on the environment. Minimizing the use of potable drinking water for other functions, including agricultural, industrial, and non-potable residential, helps to ease the burden placed on resources, the environment, and budgets.

Reduce lost water in municipal distribution systems

Communities lose millions of gallons of water each year to leaks in the distribution system. While replacing compromised pipes seems like an easy solution, the problem is actually much more complicated. Municipalities do not have sufficient funds to implement large-scale replacement projects; therefore, many compromised pipes remain in use, contributing to distribution system water loss. This loss results in reduced supply, which in turn forces some systems to seek alternate sources at a cost to both the environment and their budgets.

Conducting water audits and pipe condition assessments should be the first step towards efficient, cost-effective pipe replacement programs. Water audits help to identify the causes of water loss while developing strategies to reduce this loss, while pipe condition assessments provide insight into the quality and reliability of water distribution systems. Drinking water infrastructure in the United States, particularly in the northeast, is typically many decades-old, and deteriorating distribution systems can be a significant source of water loss through leakage. Effective water loss control programs reduce the need for facility upgrades and expansions, and in many instances, can reduce the need to find additional sources. In addition, a water loss control program can help protect public health by reducing the number of entry points for disease‐causing pathogens.

Incorporate stormwater best management practices into the built environment

Rain gardens help manage stormwater with minimal impact to the environment

Stormwater management traditionally meant infrastructure such as catch basins. Modern day stormwater management takes a much more holistic approach and maximizes the use of both the natural and engineered landscape. Some examples include onsite catchment and use, reduction of impervious surfaces, stormwater engineering such as bumpouts and tree boxes, and stormwater landscaping such as rain gardens and grassed swales.

Minimize stormwater pollution

Stormwater pollution occurs when precipitation picks up debris, trash, fertilizers, animal waste, pesticides, and improperly discarded chemicals as it moves over the ground. Reducing fertilizer and pesticide usage, cleaning up after pets, and ensuring that trash and chemicals are disposed of properly help to reduce the amount of contamination entering our waterways.

Reuse wastewater

After adequate treatment of wastewater to remove all pollutants and pathogens, it should be reused as much as possible. Treated byproducts can be used for fertilizer and methane fuel, and highly treated water can be reused for aquifer recharging, and even for drinking water.

And of course – educate!

Promote conservation, efficiency, and innovation in water use by incentivizing water conservation, implementing public outreach and education, and encouraging the adoption of methodologies and the usage of products that utilize the latest in water-efficient technologies.

In Conclusion

Achieving sustainable development is only achievable if we focus on the protection of our natural resources at every level. From improving treatment plant efficiency to installing WaterSense fixtures in our homes, creating a truly water wise future requires involvement from governments to individuals on a global level. Since 1991, World Water Week has served as a forum for legislators, scientists, experts, and interested parties to form partnerships and alliances, and to collaboratively find solutions to today’s most urgent water-related issues.

Fix a Leak Week 2017

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The Facts on Leaks

March 19-25 is Fix a Leak Week 2017.

Fix a Leak Week is celebrated in March of each year as a time to remind Americans to check their household fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks. In addition, it is a good time to address the leaks that we cannot see — those in our underground infrastructure. By addressing leaks in our homes and in our water systems, we can help to save our world’s most precious resource.

Leaks in the Home

  • The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
  • Household leaks can waste more than one trillion gallons annually nationwide. That’s equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes.
  • 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10%  on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet flappers, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don’t require a major investment.
  • Most common leaks can be eliminated after retrofitting a household with new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances.

Leak Detection:

  • fix-a-leak-week-2017A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water usage. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 10 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank.

Faucets and Showerheads:

  • leaking-faucetA leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!
  • Leaky faucets can be fixed by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary. If you are replacing a faucet, look for the WaterSense label.
  • A showerhead leaking at ten drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher.
  • Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench. If you are replacing a showerhead, look for one that has earned the WaterSense label.

Toilets:

  • If your toilet is leaking, the cause is often an old, faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It’s usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
  • If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model. If the average family replaces its older, inefficient toilets with new WaterSense labeled ones, it could save 13,000 gallons per year. Retrofitting the house could save the family nearly $2,400 in water and wastewater bills over the lifetime of the toilets.

Outdoors:

  • leaking-hoseAn irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.
  • An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • To ensure that your in-ground irrigation system is not leaking water, consult with a WaterSense irrigation partner who has passed a certification program focused on water efficiency; look for a WaterSense irrigation partner.
  • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.

If you find any of these leaks, and need assistance on how to fix them, visit the EPA’s “Fixing Leaks at Home” page.

Leaks in Our Nation’s Infrastructure

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A 20-inch water main break in Portland, Maine’s Bayside neighborhood. The rupture of a century-old water main flooded Somerset Street, disrupted 4,000 homes and businesses, and prompted a 24-hour boil-water notice. Most of Portland’s pipes are old. John Patriquin / Portland Press Herald Staff Photographer

About 20% of our nation’s drinking water is “lost” before it reaches the consumer, amounting to about seven billion gallons of clean, treated water lost in this way every day. Also called non-revenue water, this lost water would be enough to supply the ten largest cities in the United States for a full year. It also accounts for billions of dollars in lost revenue each year – funds that utilities desperately need to keep their systems running smoothly and safely. Most of this non-revenue water is the result of our nation’s leaking, aging pipes, which received a grade of D on the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2017 Report Card.

Fixing our Nation’s Infrastructure:

  • Conduct water audits, which take into account both real and apparent losses and are the most efficient, cost-effective way to accurately assess non-revenue water.
  • Conduct Capital Efficiency Plans™, which pinpoint and prioritize areas in a system most in need of improvement.
  • Pass legislation that increases available funding for water systems.
  • Conduct Business Practice Evaluations to allow utilities to function more efficiently and to utilize their limited dollars more effectively.

Feel free to share the above infographic (with attribution), download a printable PDF, or request a printed poster.

During Fix a Leak Week, while we focus on leaks and repairs in our homes, let’s also give attention to our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Through careful management and capital planning, efficient use of infrastructure budgets, and increased infrastructure funding, we can assure we have a sufficient, safe, sustainable water supply for generations to come.

www.epa.gov

The Real Cost of Non-Revenue Water and How a Water Audit Can Help

Physical losses such as leaking or broken water mains are known as real losses. There are about 240,000 water main breaks per year in the US.
Physical losses such as leaking or broken water mains are known as real losses. There are about 240,000 water main breaks per year in the US.

Every day, United States utilities lose around seven billion gallons of clean, treated drinking water. This “lost” water, referred to as non-revenue water (NRW), is caused by a number of factors, including leaking pipes, water main breaks, theft, and improper accounting of water. In fact, we lose enough water each year to supply our ten largest cities. Of the estimated $200 billion needed over the next 20 years to upgrade our water distribution systems, $97 billion is needed for water loss control. With water crises occurring throughout the country, NRW is a big deal.

How NRW Affects You

Non-revenue water affects everyone in a water distribution system. Although it is considered “non-revenue” water, many utilities include these costs in their rates, which is reflected in your bill. The less NRW a water utility produces, the lower its total costs will be. And let’s face it: no one wants to pay for things they don’t use. Also, a lower percentage of NRW reflects positively on your local water utility’s performance. Utilities with low NRW percentages typically perform well at replacing broken water mains and meters, and defending against theft.

Metering errors, theft, and billing errors result in water "appearing" to be lost. These non-physical losses are called apparent losses.
Metering errors, theft, and billing errors result in water “appearing” to be lost. These non-physical losses are called apparent losses.

When water leaks from pipes, it can erode the subsurface underneath roads and other public
infrastructure. When the erosion reaches a critical point, the road collapses or a building’s foundation can fail. The better your water utility performs in NRW reduction, the less likely your community will need to replace its public infrastructure, especially roads. Our population is continuously growing and without improved efficiency, water supply expansion and treatment projects will be necessary — significantly increasing the cost of water. Improving water use efficiency by reducing NRW defers the expense of water supply expansion and treatment. If we can prevent clean, treated water from getting “lost,” there will be less of a need to find new sources or increase capacity.

Leaking pipes contributing to non-revenue water also can pose a health risk to communities. Contaminated groundwater from leaking sewage or pollution can find its way into drinking water pipes during low pressure events. Contaminated drinking water then has the potential to spread disease and other harmful substances.

Water Audits and NRW

Non-Revenue Water infographic 11x17
Infographic of the high costs of NRW. Click the image to see it full size.

The best way to reduce a utility’s NRW is through routine water audits. Most utilities in the U.S. conduct infrequent water audits and, therefore, are likely suffering substantial losses without even being aware of it. Since 2005, a number of state and regional water resource agencies in the United States have established water audit reporting requirements for water utilities. In addition, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) has developed and published a methodology for identifying and controlling NRW, M36 Water Audits and Loss Control Programs, now in its fourth edition. Tata & Howard Vice President Steve Rupar, P.E. co-authored chapters 4 and 5 of the new M36 manual, which focus on the causes of apparent loss and what can be done to control it. An expert in water loss control, Steve has also given presentations and a webinar on the subject, which can be found here. Water audits help utilities identify the causes and costs associated with water loss, and develop strategies to avoid NRW. They also help to identify areas of a distribution system requiring repairs or maintenance. Water audits are important, especially in the northeast, where some infrastructure is over 100 years old. Preventing NRW helps save our infrastructure, our money, and most importantly, our water.

In Conclusion

NRW affects everyone, and it’s important to monitor and continuously improve water Dripping-Faucet-300x225distribution systems. Water audits are a vital step toward reducing lost water while improving water infrastructure. We lose billions of dollars every year to NRW — money that could be used to improve our infrastructure or to support other clean water initiatives. Water lost is water and money wasted, and the less NRW a utility has, the better off it — and its customers — will be.

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The High Cost of Non-Revenue Water Infographic

The High Cost of Non-Revenue Water Infographic

Fix a Leak Week is celebrated in the United States each March in order to remind people to check their homes for leaks, both indoors and out. Household leaks account for more than one trillion gallons of wasted water annually in the United States. To put it into perspective, that’s equal to the annual household water use of over 11 million homes. Fix a Leak Week encourages homeowners to repair their dripping faucets, leaky toilets, old showerheads, and faulty irrigation systems in an effort to save our nation’s water. But that’s only part of the problem.

10-30% of our nation’s clean, treated drinking water is “lost” before it ever even reaches the consumer. In fact, about seven billion gallons of water are lost in this way every single day. Lost water, also called non-revenue water, accounts for billions of dollars in lost revenue each year. Most of this non-revenue water is the result of our nation’s leaking, aging pipes, which received a grade of D+ on the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2013 Report Card.

So while fixing the leaks in our homes is certainly valuable, fixing the leaks in our nation’s pipes is critical to a sustainable future. Not only will repairing our nation’s crumbling underground infrastructure save money, but it will also increase water availability, lowering operation and maintenance costs, reducing the need for new sources and treatment plants, and diminishing impacts from drought and climate change. Unfortunately, repairing and replacing pipes is costly. Therefore, utilities need to accurately pinpoint the most problematic areas in the distribution system so they can invest their limited infrastructure dollars where they are needed most. Water audits, which take into account both real and apparent losses, are the most efficient, cost-effective way to accurately assess non-revenue water.

Feel free to share the infographic below, with attribution, download a printable PDF, or request a printed poster. During Fix a Leak Week, let’s not only repair our faulty flappers, but also our nation’s leaking underground pipes. The future depends on it.