Access to clean water is in many places taken for granted, just like the fresh air we breathe. We forget that clean water is a product, and that producing enough is actually a comprehensive, detailed process. And resources are scarce. By adding inadequate distribution management, we are faced with a more invisible, yet crucial problem: water loss, also referred to as non-revenue water, or NRW.
Non-revenue water is basically produced, cleaned water which is lost somewhere in the water distribution system, never reaching its final destination. This means water not used or paid for, affecting local economies as well as local resources available. The problem is universal, ranging from NRW levels of about 5 % to as much as 80 % in certain areas.
A World Bank study puts the global estimate of physical water losses at 32 billion cubic meters each year, half of which occurs in developing countries. Could these water losses be halved, it would be enough to supply around 90 million people.
The reasons for water losses are many, ranging from leakages, pipe bursts, and poor water management to illegal connections and unauthorised consumption. But luckily, so are the available solutions - and their benefits.