Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Shawn Hardeman

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Whereas the demand for safe drinking water increases and the availability of fresh drinking water decreases, it becomes evermore important for water systems to make effective use of the drinking water they produce. As populations grow water systems are increasingly in search of new water sources; however, as the competition for new water sources increases, water systems must look at how water is lost in their distribution systems. Water that never makes it to the consumer, or for which no revenue is received is known as water loss,' and is used to represent the water that a water system produces, puts into the distribution system, but then is lost as a result of poor record keeping, illegal connections or leaks in the distribution system. Water loss can be divided into two groups, apparent and real losses. These losses are important to consider because water loss results in a water system having to pump, treat, and deliver additional water to meet customer's demands and reduces revenues, which negatively impact both the water source and the water system. Water systems can better track their real losses by switching from the outdated and ambiguous method of reporting water loss as 'Unaccounted-for Water,' and adopt the new and tested method of the Infrastructure Leakage Index (ILI). This project will evaluate the ILI for 30 water systems in New Mexico as a means to display its usefulness in assessing water system efficiencies. Water loss due to leaks from the distribution systems are called real losses; the losses are costly and can affect a water system's ability to provide water to its customers. There are a number of leak detection methods and strategies available to water systems to reduce real losses. However, leak detection is a costly process and only identifies some fraction of the real losses, thus there is a tradeoff between the benefit of reduced real losses and the cost of leak detection. This project developed a process that assist water systems in allocating resources to leak detection activities called the Economic Leakage Level, which is based on the value of the water lost, the faction of real losses recovered using leak detection, and the cost of leak detection method. The process was illustrated by applying it to selected community water systems in New Mexico.

Language (ISO)



drinking water, water loss, water systems, Infrastructure Leakage Index (ILI), Economic Leakage Level (ELL), Las Vegas, Rio Rancho, Gallup, Ruidoso


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resouces Program, University of New Mexico.