What on Earth is NRW?

Trust me, I never heard any kind of phrase such of that. NRW is stand for Non-revenue water, generally can be applied in water works industries. I was akin of knowing this when my client is NRW department of A Malaysian company, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Berhad (SYABAS). I was a bit ashamed when I found out that I don’t really know what is NRW means. That means, I don’t know my client. LOL.

Non revenue water (NRW) is water that has been produced and is “lost” before it reaches the customer. Losses can be real losses (through leaks, sometimes also referred to as physical losses) or apparent losses (for example through theft or metering inaccuracies). High levels of NRW are detrimental to the financial viability of water utilities, as well to the quality of water itself. NRW is typically measured as the volume of water “lost” as a share of net water produced. However, it is sometimes also expressed as the volume of water “lost” per km of water distribution network per day.

Breakdown of NRW into its components

The International Water Association (IWA) has developed a detailed methodology to assess the various components of NRW. Accordingly NRW has the following components:

  • Unbilled authorized consumption
  • Apparent losses (water theft and metering inaccuracies)
  • Real losses

In many utilities the exact breakdown of NRW components is simply not known, making it difficult to decide about the best course of action to reduce NRW. Metering of water use at the level of production (wells, bulk water supply), at key points in the distribution network and for consumers is essential to estimate levels of NRW.

In most developed countries, the share of real losses is much higher than apparent losses. In many developing countries, apparent losses – in particular theft through illegal connections – are higher than real losses. Reducing apparent losses from illegal connections is often beyond what a utility can achieve by itself, because it requires a high level of political support. Illegal connections are often in slums, which means that their regularization in some cases particularly affects the poor. A water audit is a key tool to assess the breakdown of NRW and to develop a program for NRW reduction. However, many utilities have never conducted a water audit.

NRW is sometimes also referred to as unacccounted-for water (UFW). However, the IWA recommends the use of the term NRW.

Benefits of NRW reduction

Benefits of NRW reduction, in particular of leakage reduction, include

  • financial gains from increased water sales or reduced water production, including possibly the delay of costly capacity expansion;
  • increased knowledge about the distribution system;
  • increased firefighting capability due to increased pressure;
  • reduced property damage; and
  • reduced risk of contamination.

Leakage reduction may also be an opportunity to improve relations with the public and employees. A leak detection program may be highly visible, encouraging people to think about water conservation. The reduction of commercial losses, while politically and socially challenging, can also improve relations with the public, since some consumers may be reluctant to pay their water bills knowing that many others use services without being billed or being underbilled.

In the specific context of the United States NRW reduction can also mean reduced legal liability and reduced insurance payments.

Notes: The project is about the installation of electromagnetic meters, which are logging meter readings of consumers water consumptions and transmit the data to the central server via GSM network. Data will be kept and maintained in a database. The NRW Department then will do analysis days by days to monitor consumer water consumption trends in order to rectify the losses somewhere in the water supply chains. This system also provide automated billing generations of water consumptions, that will be charged to the consumers pocket.

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2 Responses to “What on Earth is NRW?”

  1. Sabrina Fies says:

    Hi my name is Sabrina. I was surfing and found your blog, which I liked very much, which is quite pleasant to read. I return next week to read you again. Greetings Sabrina

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