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Water is getting smarter

Rising operating costs, growing demand and inadequate supply and ageing infrastructure are among the factors contributing to the growth of the smart water management market

Smart water management could save utilities $12 billion annually
Smart water management could save utilities $12 billion annually

The global smart water management market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost a fifth (19 per cent) by 2020, says analyst Technavio.


The water industry is facing a number of challenges, including environmental impacts, aging infrastructure, and an increase in energy prices. Technavio reports that globally, utilities spend more than $180 billion each year to supply clean water. The use of smart water management technologies, such as rising usage of big data, censoring and monitoring in real-time, and advances in channel distribution, can help save more than $12 billion revenues for utilities annually.


“Using pressure management and smarter leakage techniques for water networks, interpreting data to enable strategic capital management, managing smart network operations and water cycle, and monitoring smart water quality will authorize significant cost savings,” said Amit Sharma, a lead analyst at Technavio for research on IT professional services.


The company’s ICT analysts highlight the following four factors that are contributing to the growth of the global smart water management market:

  • Rising operating costs
  • Growing demand and inadequate supply
  • Improved usage of technology
  • Ageing infrastructure in developed economies

Ageing water infrastructure, the need to manage capital costs, increasing energy costs, expanding regulation, and tight financing are the major concerns for the water industry. Volatile energy costs are critical concerns prompting governments worldwide to implement smart water management solutions. Energy costs represent the highest expense in water treatment in countries such as Germany, the UK, and other European countries. In Germany, water treatment facilities alone accounted more than 20 per cent of the energy consumption in 2014.


Ageing infrastructure in the US is driving the need to implement smart water management solutions in the country. This places utilities in an awkward position to manage and treat water resources. In the UK, most of the water sector infrastructures set over the last hundred years are in poor condition and a majority of these are due for replacement. Some utility companies are experiencing high losses reaching up to 25 per cent due to the ageing infrastructure of water networks.


The demand for water is also soaring, not just to cater personal needs of individuals, but also for multiple industries. With the current rate of population increase, Technavio expects the demand for water to surge rapidly shortly. Freshwater supply is limited, even though the demand continues to rise rapidly.


The cost of supplying water continues to surge as water becomes scarcer. According to Technavio, the global water demand is likely to grow by 35 per cent over the forecast period with the majority of the demand coming from developing countries. As demand continues to surge, utility companies will require more efficient methods to manage water network and diversify supply.


Service integration between utility sectors has allowed companies to operate in the water industry without much efforts. The technology allows examining mechanisms and usage to bring improvements to water network and cut operating costs. Smart water management involves the whole life cycle of water from abstraction to treatment, distribution, use, and end treatment. This also indicates a stronger recognition of green infrastructure and alternative mechanisms to manage storm water runoff in urban areas.


“Countries opt for smart water management to utilise the resource in an efficient manner and improve the overall output. The DC Water Authority, through the implementation of smart metering systems, has been successful to increase its revenue by 7 per cent in 2013, and reduced customer calls by 30 per cent,” says Sharma.


The US, Canada, and some of the developed countries in Western Europe such as the UK, Germany, and Spain are experiencing increased demand for smart water technology solutions. The demand stems from issues due to aging water infrastructure, leading to bursts, pipe leakage, and increased customer complaints. With advances in software defined infrastructure and rising use of smart devices such as water meter have made maintenance and monitoring of water reservoir less complicated.

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