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Non-revenue water reduction strategies: a systematic review

Abdelrahman M. Farouk (Faculty of Civil Engineering Technology, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Gambang, Malaysia)
Rahimi A. Rahman (Faculty of Civil Engineering Technology, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Gambang, Malaysia)
Noor Suraya Romali (Faculty of Civil Engineering Technology, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Gambang, Malaysia)

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment

ISSN: 2046-6099

Article publication date: 28 September 2021

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023




Sustainability involves ensuring that sufficient resources are available for current and future generations. Non-revenue water (NRW) creates a barrier to sustainability through energy and water loss. However, a comprehensive overview of NRW reduction strategies is lacking. This study reviews the existing literature to identify available strategies for reducing NRW and its components and discusses their merits.


A systematic literature review was conducted to identify and analyze different strategies for reducing NRW. The initial search identified 158 articles, with 41 of these deemed suitably relevant following further examination. Finally, 14 NRW reduction strategies were identified from the selected articles.


The identified NRW reduction strategies were grouped into strategies for reducing (1) apparent losses (AL), (2) real losses (RL) and (3) water losses, with the latter involving the combination of AL and RL. The strategies adopted most frequently are “prevent water leakage” and “control water pressure.” In addition, water distribution network (WDN) rehabilitation has additional benefits over other RL reduction strategies, including saving water and energy, increasing hydraulic performance and enhancing reliability. Finally, utilizing decision support systems is the only strategy capable of reducing multiple NRW categories.


This review provides insights into the overall NRW problem and the strategies best equipped to address it. Authorities can use these findings to develop case-specific NRW reduction action plans that save water and energy, while providing other economic benefits. In addition, NRW reduction can improve WDN reliability.



This work is supported by the Universiti Malaysia Pahang Postgraduate Research Scheme [PGRS200382]. The authors would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers whose invaluable comments and suggestions substantially improved the paper.


Farouk, A.M., Rahman, R.A. and Romali, N.S. (2023), "Non-revenue water reduction strategies: a systematic review", Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 181-199.



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