Good Money after Bad Data: the Death of “Unaccounted for Water”
Jernigan, William J.
Cavanaugh, M. Steve, Jr.
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The AWWA National Water Loss Control Committee has deemed the use of “unaccounted for water” as a measurement of system efficiency as inaccurate. For years water system managers have considered their system in good shape if their “unaccounted for water” was 10% or less. Recent findings prove that this is not the case for most systems. There is no universal benchmark. One size does not fit all and now there is proof. Cavanaugh & Associates, PA has performed 27 water audit and revenue recovery programs in the Carolinas over the past 2 years. Using this data set, we will demonstrate from our findings that an effective revenue recovery program must have data confidence, a culture of efficiency, and benchmarking & data trending as its foundation. In many cases the data used in preparing water efficiency calculations is not defensible, mainly because systems depend on information that is readily available but inaccurate or information that is pure conjecture. We will show how to improve data confidence in order to quantify and justify water system needs. Armed with this information, water system managers can make financial decisions based on fact, not fiction, and more effectively implement a revenue recovery program instead of throwing good money after bad data.