Water losses in water distribution networks (WDNs) are unavoidable. Water losses are evaluated based on performance indicators (PIs) and used for future recommendations for network operators to take measures against water losses. However, these evaluations primarily focus on large and medium sized WDN and do not deal with the challenges of small WDNs (e.g., technical, and financial limitations, missing data). Therefore, an appropriate water loss management is a major challenge for operators in the federal state of Tyrol (Austria) due to the high number of small WDNs, e.g., low income in combination with long network lengths. In this regard, this work specifies and discusses state funding in Austria to support network operators to reduce water losses. To assess the impacts on management strategies, 40 WDNs, supplying 200 to 16,000 inhabitants, are investigated in detail. As the comparison of different PIs shows, a volume related PI (e.g., water loss volume divided by total water demand) is recommend as the decision criterion for local authorities due to minimal efforts and its easy calculation. Moreover, public funding helps to significantly reduce water losses in individual systems, but countermeasures should be different for small and larger WDNs. For example, leakage detection campaigns and rehabilitation planning based on pipe age should be established in future for larger WDNs in Tyrol. In contrast, an online flow metering system to monitor system inflows is suggested for small WDNs. Based on measurement data, leakages and burst can be detected and repaired swiftly.
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