Conformance of Public Water Use Data to Benford’s Law

December 2018 | Robert B. Sowby

Water use data are essential to managing public water systems, but because most of such data in the United States are self‐reported, it is difficult to assess their accuracy. Benford’s law, which gives the expected frequency of leading digits in numerical data, could serve as one validation tool. This analysis tests whether Benford’s law applies to observations of potable water use by US public water systems. Almost all were found to conform to Benford’s law. This finding could serve as a quality check for historical water use data as well as projections.

A poster is also available.

Journal – American Water Works Association 110 (12)