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Water & Sewer

Water Loss Benchmarks

Water Loss Control

Each utility is required to implement a water loss control program that includes the following components:

  • Metering all water sales, where practicable
  • Maintaining and verifying the accuracy of customer and utility meters
  • Identifying and repairing leaks in the distribution system to the extent that it is reasonable to do so
  • Controlling water usage from hydrants
  • Maintaining records of system pumpage and consumption
  • Conducting an annual water audit

A utility must report the results of its annual water audit to the Commission no later than April 1 of each year as part of the utility’s annual financial report. The water audit generally follows the procedures identified by the American Water Works Association and includes measured or estimated volumes for the following:

  • Water purchased or pumped from all sources
  • Water used in treatment or production processes
  • Water entering the distribution system
  • Water sold, including both metered and unmetered sales
  • Water not sold but used for authorized purposes such as flushing mains, fire protection, and freeze prevention
  • Real and apparent water losses

Utilities would benefit from using AWWA's free Water Audit Software, available at : This tool helps quantify and track losses as well as identify areas for improved efficiecy and cost recovery.To view a videotaped webinar on this topic, hosted by the PSC and sponsored by the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), visit AWE’s YouTube channel (@A4WE).  The workshop is presented as a four-part series:

Part I: Welcome, Water Audits, Water Loss, Non-Revenue Water, Water Balance
Part II: Performance Indicators, Data Validity Grading, Component Analysis of Real Losses
Part III: Intervening Against Water Losses and Regional Case Studies: Madison and Ann Arbor
Part IV: The Bigger Picture: Lead Service Lines, Water Loss Control from the Regulator’s Perspective, Policy and Regulatory Issues

The PSC, along with water utilities, DNR, and industry association partners, recently participated in a pilot training program designed to guide and advance adoption of best-practices for water loss control. The pilot program's primary objectives were to introduce the American Water Works Association (AWWA) methodology and tools to reduce water loss, evaluate the PSC's current water loss data collection practices, evaluate the potential for driving utilities' water loss programs from audit to action, and identify potential needs for statewide training and techical assistance. You can find a copy of the project's final report here.

Water Loss Control Plan Data Base

The Wisconsin Administrative Code PSC 185.85(4)(b) requires a utility to submit a water loss control plan to the Commission if the utility reports its percentage of non-revenue water exceeds 30 percent and/or water losses exceed 15% for utilities with more than 1,000 customer or 25% for utilities with fewer than 1,000 customers. Commission will periodically send out letters to these utilities to submit a water loss control plan that can be satisfied by answering the questions in this database.

The Commission may require a public utility to conduct a leak detection survey of its distribution system if the utility reports excessive water loss for three consecutive years, starting with the 2012 annual report.


Wisconsin Water Loss Benchmark Data

A water utility’s annual report provides data about water loss and non-revenue water that utility personnel might find useful when making decisions about the operation and maintenance of their distribution system. The Public Service Commission has compiled data for Wisconsin’s public water utilities, and some key reports are shown below:

  1. Water loss histories for each utility
  2. Energy and treatment costs of each utility applied to their water loss
  3. Utility maintenance dollars of their distribution system for:
    1. Class AB & C Utilities
      1. Mains
      2. Service
      3. Hydrants
    2. Class D Utilities
      1. Mains, Service & Hydrants
  4. Utility history on the replacement and growth of its:
    1. Mains
    2. Services
    3. Hydrants

Water loss and non-revenue water questions can be directed to Denise Schmidt, at (608) 266-1282 or by e-mail at