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DRBC Approves New Conservation Program To Identify And Control Water Loss In The Delaware River Basin

For Immediate Release

March 12, 2009

(WEST TRENTON, N.J.) --  Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Executive Director Carol R. Collier announced that the five-member agency comprised of Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York State, and the Federal Government yesterday voted at its public meeting to phase in a program requiring water suppliers to follow a revised water audit approach for identifying and controlling water loss in the Delaware River Basin.

“The commissioners believe this new water conservation approach offers an opportunity to improve water supply efficiency through a more advanced water loss accounting program,” Collier said. “This program will reduce water demand at the source, reduce treatment costs, improve system efficiency, and enhance purveyor revenue.”

An estimated 150 million gallons of treated and pressurized water is physically lost from public water supply distribution systems in the Delaware River Basin every day and current methods to account for, track, and reduce this loss are inadequate.

The purpose of the new rule is to phase in a program requiring water purveyors to perform a water audit and report their findings in accordance with a new audit structure established by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the International Water Association (IWA). The new method is widely regarded as superior to the existing approach that entails tracking “unaccounted-for water,” a very broad indicator which is no longer considered best practice.

The new water audit methodology provides a rational approach that will facilitate more consistent tracking and reporting than the existing approach allows, as well as furthers the commission’s water conservation program. It will help water managers and regulators, including the DRBC, state agencies, and utility managers, target their efforts to improve water supply efficiency, thereby reducing water withdrawals.

Because this water audit approach is relatively new in a regulatory context, the regulations approved yesterday call for phased implementation. Through 2011, DRBC will promote the voluntary use of the IWA/AWWA water audit program. During this period, information will be gathered from within the basin and nationwide to assist in the establishment of performance indicators for water loss, which ultimately will replace the existing “unaccounted-for water” targets. Water purveyors will be required to perform an annual water audit conforming to the IWA/AWWA methodology beginning in calendar year 2012.

“DRBC will make every effort to contact all water systems subject to the new water audit regulation and plans to hold workshops for system operators during the phase-in period,” Collier said. 

The DRBC’s Water Management Advisory Committee (WMAC), composed of representatives from a wide range of public and private sector organizations, took the lead in developing the rulemaking approved yesterday.

DRBC staff, with the support of the commissioners, participated in the effort led by the AWWA Water Loss Control Committee (WLCC) to develop new software for implementing the water audit approach. With the assistance of the WMAC, staff engaged six water purveyors from the basin in a nationwide pilot study that led to improvements in the software. This software, which is available free of charge to all users, was approved by the AWWA WLCC in March 2006 and can be accessed from its web site at www.awwa.org.

An informational meeting and public hearing on the proposed amendments were held in September 2008, and written comments were accepted through October 3, 2008.

The DRBC was formed by compact in 1961 through legislation signed into law by President John F. Kennedy and the governors of the four basin states with land draining to the Delaware River. The passage of this compact marked the first time in our nation’s history that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development, and regulatory agency.

Additional information, including a link to the free water audit software, can be found on the commission’s web site at www.drbc.net.


Contact: Kate O'Hara, DRBC, 609-883-9500 ext. 205, katharine.o'hara@drbc.state.nj.us