Operating a public drinking water system is capital intensive. This means delivering the first gallon of water is infinitely more expensive than the second. The first gallon requires all the infrastructure, while the second requires only the operating cost to acquire raw water, treat it, and move it from the point of treatment to the point of delivery. Some amount of water loss, called unavoidable annual real losses (UARL), is inevitable in all water systems; the treated water lost in the delivery process which is prohibitively expensive to prevent. UARL is a mathematical calculation that assumes the distribution infrastructure is in good condition and accounts for the total length of the distribution system, the total number of service connections, the total length of connections from the street to the each meter, as well as average system pressure. It is exceptionally rare to find a utility operating at or close to … see more
There’s a tendency to think customer engagement is most valuable when supply is under stress, which is the case in many states. While that’s the easiest way to see how customer engagement benefits utility operations, the reality is that consumer engagement for demand management offers real financial benefits regardless of the availability of water supply. A recent Water Research Foundation Study, Toolbox for Water Utility Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Management, reveals how water use management is the key driver in determining the volume of raw water that must be acquired, stored, treated and distributed. This also applies to determining how well combined sewer systems handle rainfall. Thus water demand management embodies a key lever in addressing infrastructure issues.
When it’s necessary to implement drought–sensitive water use programs, targeted customer … see more