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Non-Revenue Water (NRW) — water produced and lost before it reaches the customer — is a crucial factor in managing water resources. Leakage from ageing infrastructure, unauthorised consumption, and metering inaccuracies all contribute to the loss of this valuable resource. In Australia, where an increasingly changing climate and the anticipated onset of drought conditions are a reality, tackling NRW should be a top priority.

NRW represents a loss not just of water but also of revenue and the energy used in extraction, treatment and distribution. It’s a global problem that takes on heightened significance in Australia, a country frequently grappling with water scarcity. With the potential impact of droughts looming large, any lost water – and by extension lost revenue – cannot be afforded.

The technological solution

Addressing NRW requires a comprehensive and integrated approach that utilises a range of strategies, from better bulk measurement, leak detection, regular infrastructure upgrades and improved metering accuracy. Technological innovations have a pivotal role in this. For instance, deploying advanced digital twin technology allows for the real-time monitoring of water network assets, enabling utilities to identify and address leakages promptly and divert field teams to problem areas.

At the forefront of NRW reduction, Aqua Analytics partners with leading water utilities to provide data-driven solutions that predict potential system failures and optimise the management of network assets. This risk-based asset management approach helps prioritise maintenance activities, reducing the likelihood of failures, and locates all network defects and leaks to ensure timely intervention.

Taking a proactive approach

Furthermore, community expectations are changing. Australians are becoming more water-conscious and expect utilities to manage water resources effectively. Reducing NRW and addressing leakage throughout the supply network are now considered fundamental responsibilities that utilities owe their customers. Australia’s unique environmental conditions call for additional measures to conserve water.

One such measure is the increased reliance on desalinated water during drought periods. While desalination is an effective alternative water source, it is also costly. Therefore, any leakage of desalinated water represents an even higher loss, making NRW reduction crucial for the feasibility of desalination projects.

In light of these factors, it’s clear that Australia needs to tackle NRW proactively and systematically. By reducing NRW, utilities can enhance their resilience to drought, conserve resources, improve financial sustainability, and meet the expectations of the communities they serve.

The stakes are high, but so too are the potential rewards. A concerted, determined effort to reduce NRW could be the key to ensuring Australia’s sustainable and resilient water future. By investing in technology, infrastructure maintenance, and community engagement today, Australians can secure our water supply for tomorrow, whatever the climate may throw at us.

The time to act is now. Australia’s water utilities need to rise to the challenge, seize the opportunities that new ways of working present, and meet the expectations of water-conscious communities to address NRW now before the next drought arrives.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Aqua Analytics. For more information on how Aqua Analytics can assist in your journey, visit www.aquaanalytics.com.au

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