Date of Award

6-26-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Management and Policy

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Beth Walker - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Ronald G. Cummings

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas S. Noonan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Bryan G. Norton

Fifth Advisor

Dr. William L. Waugh

Abstract

Water conservation is one of the important policy concerns. However, most water conservation practices have focused primarily on reducing use by customers. Since a large amount of water lost in supply systems causes water providers to lose money, resources, and reliability, and the current passive approach cannot deal with water losses effectively, a proactive approach is necessary for water-loss management. The goal of this study is to help policymakers and water utilities develop strategies that proactively solve water losses. To develop strategies for water-loss management, it is essential to identify key factors that determine the level of water losses as well as the factors that encourage the adoption of the innovative control practices. Using three different datasets and statistical methodology, this study analyzed the factors associated with water losses and utilities responses to the problems. Based on case studies, this study explored managers perceptions about the adoption of water-loss management and identified organizational characteristics that may influence managements decisions to adopt such strategies. Operational and Maintenance (O and M) factors had the most significant impacts on water losses. In particular, system size, represented by total production or population served, and infrastructure rehabilitation were crucial factors. The effects of some internal factors on water losses were predicted but those of several internal factors were rather unclear and relatively complicated. This study confirmed that utilities were more likely to be motivated to combat water losses if certain external conditions, such as higher water demand, limited resource availability, and institutional pressure exist. This study found several internal and external factors associated with the adoption of proactive water-loss management; however, internal factors seemed to dominate in the decision-making processes over such adoption. The utilities that have already adopted proactive water-loss management seem to be more amenable to adopt new practices because they have certain characteristics and their managers have more positive perspectives. The findings suggest several policy implications and recommendations for the water industry. Finally, this study discussed limitations of the study, and suggestions for further studies.

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