Team Work Makes the Dream Work

May 8th 2018

Orange County water agencies are rarely idle - faced with expensive water, a booming economy, and rapid development, Orange County municipalities must be proactive and intentional in drinking water management. As a result, Orange County leads the country in recycled water infrastructure, indirect potable reuse, efficient fixture installation, groundwater adjudication, and xeriscaping. And now, Orange County is pushing the needle on a new efficiency frontier - water loss control.

In 2016, the Municipal Water District of Orange County began offering a water loss control shared services program to its 28 member agencies. The cities of Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Fullerton also joined the effort, and WSO plugged in as the technical expert offering one-on-one assistance and research support to the group. Now in its third year, the Orange County water loss control program has broken new ground in regional water loss control, and it feels as though we've only just scratched the surface.

The Orange County program consists of bimonthly work group seminars, tailored analytic and field services, and collaborative data management and advocacy. The program was envisioned as a five-year progressive effort that will allow each agency to achieve and maintain cost-effective water loss performance. In doing so, agencies will comply will new state mandates, reduce financial inefficiency, and extend the life of distribution infrastructure. 2018 is the program's third year, and we're excited about what's to come.


The Orange County program has set the standard for regional water loss control, and other agencies are taking note. California Water Service and the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency are now offering similar programs to their members.

A few interesting findings are cropping up in Orange County's work. So far, we've observed that:

  • Customer meters may have a longer useful life than you expect (more than 20 years, often). Furthermore, we haven't been able to correlate accuracy with age or throughput across the thousands of customer meter tests we've accumulated. Surprising! We're investigating this further - stay tuned.


  • Water loss estimates vary significantly in the first few years that an agency compiles a water audit, so don't place all your bets on first-year results. This is especially important for the state of California as water loss standards are debated for debut in 2020. Interim standards might be more appropriate in 2020 as utilities hone in on accurate water loss estimates over multiple audits, with more meaningful standards coming a few years later.


Orange County's work will inform the State Water Resource Control Board’s water loss standards to be published in 2020. We'll make sure to keep everyone updated on the latest results coming from the Municipal Water District of Orange County work group!


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