DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS: REDUCE THE LEVEL OF UNBILLED WATER

8-E
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS: REDUCE THE LEVEL OF UNBILLED WATER
Problem Identification:
The City’s Bureau of Water and Wastewater produces a large volume of water for which it cannot fully account for its use.

Recommended Action:
Reduce the level of unbilled water that results from leakage and theft of service by instituting regular pipeline surveys.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Revenue Enhancement

Functional/Operational Impact:
Bureau of Water and Wastewater

Estimated Annual Impact:
Cannot be Estimated

Estimated Implementation Costs:
Not Determined

Barriers to Implementation:
None

Projected Implementation:
Ongoing

Next Steps:
Continue to closely monitor the level of unbilled water, develop programs to increase the number of miles of pipeline annually surveyed for theft of service and leaks, and explore contracting with third-party providers to increase the amount pipeline surveyed.

Analysis:
In FY99, the City was unable to account for over 24 percent of the water it produced.

The City’s ability to minimize the amount of water that it produces, but for which it does not bill, is critical to maintaining the City’s comparatively very low water charges. While the City will always produce water for which it cannot bill (e.g. firefighting), it can take proactive steps to reduce the current level of unaccounted for water caused by the theft of service and pipe leaks.

The Bureau of Water and Wastewater should set standards (see Recommendation 14-B) to increase the amount of water pipeline that is surveyed each year. Additionally, it should explore options to retain a third party to assist in the surveying of pipelines. If this option is pursued, contractor payment could be directly tied to the level of cost savings or revenue enhancement produced so as to minimize the Bureau’s up-front costs.