Leaks in Water Distribution Systems

Growing Blue

As water demand increases, water supply management requires change

Over the last few decades water stress has been increasing both due to an increase in water demand and reduced water supply. Water leakage reduction in public water systems is a crucial part of water demand management.

Leakage is usually the largest component of distribution loss yet it is not subject to regulation other than management decision by utilities. Leakage in public water supply systems results in loss of purified drinking water but also means wasting the energy and material resources used in abstraction, transportation and treatment. It results in secondary economic loss as well, in the form of, damage to the pipe network, public health concerns as it increases the risk of bacterial contamination of water resources in cities for human consumption, and can increase pollution loads into the environment.

The American Water Works Association published a 2012 report entitled “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge” that calls into action an era of infrastructure replacement. One million miles of pipes beneath our streets need to be replaced because as pipes age, the problems of infiltration and exfiltration due to leaks increase in sewer pipes and can lead to potential problems such as the collapse of a pipeline or damages to nearby assets.

As the population continues to grow and lifestyles continue to change and demand more water, both domestic and business water consumers will need to encourage infrastructure maintenance projects to reduce water leakages. Click below to see how 22 major US cities perform in terms of percent (%) of water that is lost in water distribution systems because of leakages.

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