Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Building, Civil & Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Denise Barnett


Leakage targets in Ireland are based on the Unaccounted for Water (UFW) performance indicator. This has been set out in the National Water Study published by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) in 2000. This leakage target performance indicator has been maintained since in all government published reports and guidelines.

The use of this performance indicator has been discouraged by the International Water Association (IWA) and its use has been discontinued by the UK water industry because it can misrepresent the true level of leakage. The IWA recommends the use of the Infrastructure Leakage Index (ILl) as a leakage performance indicator while the UK water industry recommends its Economic Level of Leakage (ELL) process.

Both UFW and ILl are examined as leakage targets. Both are easily understood concepts requiring a reasonably attainable level of information for calculation. The ELL is also examined. It is a more complex process requiring a greater grasp of the characteristics of the area being assessed. The identified benefit of ELL over UFW and ILl as a performance indicator is that it allows the consideration of the economic cost of achieving leakage reduction and the consideration of efforts to reduce pressure in an area.

It has been confirmed that pressure reduction is, at present, under-utilised as a leakage reduction tool in many water distribution networks. Examined research has shown that pressure management can significantly reduce leakage levels in a distribution area. When combined with active leakage control it can improve leakage reduction. To utilise these two leakage reduction tools to best effect, it will be necessary to determine the most economic balance of implementation and expenditure on each. It is intended to establish this relationship for case study DMAs in Limerick City Council Water Distribution area for this project. The method used may form the basis for the similar evaluation of other DMAs or larger network areas.

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