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New water audit shows how much leaks cost you

A new statewide audit now requires all water districts report losses to make sure water isn’t wasted in leaks.

Ashley Metzger, from Desert Water Agency, told us, “Water loss to the system is something that everyone does pay for.”

With the passing and implementation of Senate Bill 555, all districts must now show how much water is lost through leaks. Desert Water Agency reports that only 2.9% of the cost of the system goes to water loss, but the data may not be as accurate as it could be, with a validity score of only 58 out of 100.

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“While we may have a really low data validity score, that doesn’t speak to what we have happening here on the ground,” Metzger said.

She said DWA was pleasantly surprised with the audit results, though officials are aware there is room for improvement with increased metering to guarantee greater accuracy in the future. More staffing for the audit may also be considered, though Metzger said that’s being looked at internally to avoid increased cost for ratepayers.

Metzger said the key to DWA’s success has been the aggressive pipeline replacement program that now works with a $2.75 million budget, updating infrastructure and avoiding emergency situations. Coachella Valley Water District also boasts a robust leak detection crew that has found more than a 1,000 leaks since its inception in 2014.

CVWD, which has the largest water system in the valley, reports only 5.1% of the cost of the system goes to water loss with a 20 point-higher data validity score than Desert Water Agency, indicating higher accuracy of the overall report.

So what does that mean for your wallet? For both Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District, we’re told the average household would pay around 80 to 90 cents per month to cover the cost of water from leaks, but that’s a simplified look at the numbers. Customers who use more water or businesses will naturally pay more than others.

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