Beal Consultants

Providing exert advice to the water industry

(+44) 07970 675908

District Meter Area (DMA) Characterisation

Leakage continues to be a key measure for companies, customers and the regulators. Press reports continue to link high leakage with water shortages and Director’s pay. Interruptions also hit the headlines following extreme weather events such as the Beast from the East and the subsequent Ofwat investigation.

Traditionally, water companies have targeted active leakage control and repair activities in DMAs or small areas using a combination of leakage and/or the change in leakage. Mains renewal has traditionally been targeted at mains with high burst rates.

Water companies often consider leakage, bursts and interruptions separately, although they are all intrinsically linked as there is only one network that is leaking, bursting and leading to interruptions. We recommend an approach that integrates multiple KPIs and explanatory factors, and targets activities based on their combined impact.

As companies work towards targets with financial cost and benefit impacts we also recommend that the impact of uncertainty is included within any analysis. Slightly higher cost may give a greater level of certainty.

We recommend using the DMAs as the building blocks, and then to integrate as much data as possible to characterise the DMAs. This enables informed decisions to be made as to which DMAs to target and what type of activity to utilise for maximum combined benefit.


The DART Tool enables the  mix of leakage management, mains renewal and pressure management to be modelled


Image description
Image description

DART DMA Characterisation Tool

To facilitate our recommended approach we have developed the DART ‘DMA Characterisation Tool’, which is a spreadsheet-based tool that uses data from a company’s leakage management software and other company systems to build a overview of DMA performance.

DART has two key elements:

  1. Categorisation of DMAs into different sectors, in the example shown to the right the DMAs have been categorised into four quadrants. DART groups similar performing DMA and enables ‘beacon’ DMAs to be identified and studied.
  2. Dashboard for each DMA, bringing together all data – physical (properties, mains lengths, material etc), operational (demand, pressures, night use), leakage, bursts and interruptions.

We consider that the integration of a range of factors will enable water companies to achieve their challenging leakage targets most economically, and that DART provides a robust tool that can support companies on this journey.