Water utilities might not often think of it, but water leaks contribute to a significant portion of home repair costs each year. There are many causes of water damage including things like household flooding, faulty plumbing, appliance failures, leaky fixtures, and irrigation system problems. While many people underestimate the risk of water damage to their homes, statistics from the insurance industry cast a light on the reality of how water can impact what is, for most people, the largest financial investment they will make in their lifetime.[Read more…] about The Surprising Hidden Costs of Water Leaks
The Size of the Challenge
Water remains relatively inexpensive. So if a handful of end-users can’t, won’t, or forget to pay their water bill, you wouldn’t think it would have much impact on utility finances. It turns out that payment performance is actually a really big deal that costs the industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year. As of 2010 U.S. water utilities generated over $42 billion in annual revenue and given the pace of rate hikes over the past few years that number is now likely closer to $50B. Perhaps unsurprisingly, water utilities report being unable to collect between 0.5% and 1.5% of billed revenues each year. To make the math simple, let’s assume that 1% of $50B in annual revenue is uncollectible which equals losses of $500 million each year.
United States Water Systems
The United States has a very unusual and fragmented network of water systems. There are over 150,000 water systems in the United States serving nearly 320 million Americans. That’s an average of roughly 2,000 individuals per utility. Clearly water fragmentation is a reality in this country.
The UK, by comparison, has only 32 regulated water utilities that serve a population of around 64 million which equates to approximately 2 million users per utility. Australia looks similarly consolidated with nearly 19 million people (out of a population of 23 million) served by just 82 water suppliers. This equals about 230,000 people per utility.[Read more…] about The U.S. Water Fragmentation Conundrum
As the dawn of 2016 emerges and we look forward to the year ahead, it’s instructive to engage in a little prognostication. While none of us claim the clairvoyance of Nostradamus, there are some clear trends that began to take hold in 2015 to inform our outlook on the top 5 water trends in the coming year. With that inelegant preamble behind us, let’s begin the soothsaying![Read more…] about Forecasting the top 5 water trends in 2016
So it appears that El Nino is nearly upon us. Or at least that’s what many pundits are predicting. Pacific ocean temperature levels have been rising and appear to be equivalent to those in the 1997-1998 period when we experienced the largest El Nino event on record which led to record precipitation throughout the Western United States.
While this will potentially bring much needed rain to drought stricken regions of the country, there are a number of factors that indicate both short and long-term challenges that our water delivery and treatment systems will continue to face.[Read more…] about Wherefore art thou El Niño
Measuring changes in water consumption can be a tricky business. Most homes in the United States have only a single water meter that is read bi-monthly. This makes it challenging to determine changes in consumption patterns from period to period, or to identify what approaches to encouraging water-use efficiency are actually most effective.[Read more…] about Reliably Measuring Water Savings
The Value of Water Coalition is launching a national advocacy campaign today, Tuesday October 6th, called Imagine A Day Without Water. The goal of the campaign is to not only educate people about the value of water, but to drive changes in water use behavior to create more resilient and sustainable water systems for our collective future.
Here at WaterSmart, we thought for a long-time about what a day without water might look like, and how WaterSmart could contribute to the dialog in a unique manner that is consistent with our mission. What we ended up with was a slightly different take than what might be expected from the campaign topic.[Read more…] about Imagining A Day Without Water
Water utilities are increasingly evaluating new metering technologies to reduce non-revenue water, drive down operational costs of data collection, and gain greater visibility into meter asset health. From the utility’s perspective, these are all sound business reasons for making what is often a substantial investment in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).
But how do these investments help the residential customer? Are water prices reduced as a result of these utility cost reductions? Unfortunately not. Utilities have to recover the cost of the hardware investment and many districts are not generating sufficient revenue to cover their basic operational expenses, let alone enough to make long-term investments in new capital projects.[Read more…] about The Customer Engagement Case for Smart Water Meters