Apparent losses are usually caused by water theft, billing errors, or revenue meter under-registration. While the first two causes are directly related to water utility management and may be reduced by improving company procedures, water meter inaccuracies are considered to be the most significant and hardest to quantify. Water meter errors are amplified in networks subjected to water scarcity, where users adopt private storage tanks to cope with the intermittent water supply. The aim of this paper is to analyse the role of two variables influencing the apparent losses: water meter age and the private storage tank effect on meter performance. The study was carried out in Palermo (Italy). The impact of water meter ageing was evaluated in laboratory by testing 180 revenue meters, ranging from 0 to 45 years in age. The effects of the private water tanks were determined via field monitoring of real users and a mathematical model. This study demonstrates that the impact on apparent losses from the meter starting flow rapidly increases with meter age. Private water tanks, usually fed by a float valve, overstate meter under-registration, producing additional apparent losses between 15% and 40% for the users analysed in this study.

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