Water Technology: Five advantages of implementation

Water technology has gone from being an idea of the future to a real need. The current global water situation requires intelligent solutions which can tackle the challenges that lie ahead. Against this backdrop, the use of ad-hoc software multiplies the efficiency of water utilities.  

By water technology, we refer to innovative solutions designed to improve the management of all or part of the water cycle. This water technology, which is embodied in water software and is geared to ensuring economic, social and environmental sustainability, seeks to respond to the challenges facing the sector as a result of climate change, population growth and migratory movements.

In the coming years, global water demand is expected to rise by 55% as a result of the expected population increase from 8 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050, as reported by the United Nations. In addition, climate change, spearheaded by rising global temperatures, is causing droughts and accelerating water supply problems. Therefore, there is a critical need for solutions to the water crisis.

On this topic, the UN, in its World Water Development Report 2021, entitled “Valuing Water”, is clear: “Recognizing, measuring and expressing water’s worth, and incorporating it into decision-making, are fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In fact, the United Nations explains how to respond to these challenges: “For the full value of water to be captured and considered by all to be a human right, there is a need for considerable investment in infrastructure, appropriate technologies and the use of non-conventional water resources to improve productivity, sustainability and access for all”.

Water Technology

FIVE ADVANTAGES OF APPLYING TECHNOLOGY 

Therefore, it seems obvious that water technology is essential. In addition to its positive benefit-cost ratio, implementing integrated water cycle management software provides utilities with a number of clear advantages.

A) Reduction of non-revenue water 

This refers to supplied water that is not authorized or registered, either due to leaks in the network and overflows in infrastructures, or to inaccurate metering, or unauthorized water consumption. In any case, reducing the volume of non-revenue water is a major challenge for utilities, whether for environmental reasons (water scarcity), economic reasons (costs and lost revenue) or legislative reasons (requirements regarding compliance with minimum water efficiency indicators).  In this case, improving distribution network water efficiency through monitoring software, Big Data or Machine Learning enables companies to reduce this huge volume of water which, in terms of leaks alone, is estimated at around 32 billion cubic meters per year, according to the World Bank. As the UN points out in the previously cited report, “New digital technologies are creating unprecedented opportunities to leverage data and analytics in order to improve the assessment and management of water use.”  

B) Optimization of asset lifespan  

One of the main issues facing utilities is the useful life of their infrastructure, which is essential for the successful social and economic development of the area. In this regard, water sector specialists point out that it is necessary both to renew assets and to build new infrastructure to ensure they run smoothly. Moreover, utilities often lack a holistic view of the state of their assets, which makes it difficult to predict their degradation and, therefore, makes management less efficient. In this situation, the implementation of intelligent, interconnected, agnostic and scalable solutions guarantees optimization. In addition, these solutions offer a holistic view of the digital components operating in the infrastructures, bring all the systems together under a single umbrella, standardize language and ensure that parts of the systems do not have to be constantly changed in order to achieve efficiency.

C) Cost reductions  

The implementation of water technology reduces costs. Smart solutions optimize operational efficiency, decrease water, energy and carbon footprints, and minimize the number of actors involved in the process. Likewise, the deployment of intelligent solutions focused on improving the entire water cycle, such as digital twins, reduces maintenance costs thanks to their ability to anticipate possible incidents.

D) Improved operations and planning 

One of the keys to water technology lies precisely in optimizing operational management and planning and, therefore, efficiency. Pablo Alcoriza, CTO of Idrica, pointed out at the Smart Water Summit organized by iAgua that the application of smart solutions “covers a multitude of use cases that seek to prevent risk situations, anticipate potential issues and improve system maintenance to create a more environmentally friendly water cycle.” 

E) Increased resilience to extreme events  

As mentioned above, climate change has brought an increase in the number of extreme weather events. Droughts, heat waves, cold spells, torrential rains and tropical cyclones are just some of these episodes, which can lead to migratory phenomena, fires and floods, to name a few, and in which water supply is compromised. These events have a direct impact on the water cycle and, therefore, on utilities, which need to guarantee supply whatever the circumstances. Therefore, the deployment of intelligent solutions is not only a competitive advantage, but a necessity that promotes foresight, increased speed and efficiency, as well as standard utility operations.

GOVERNMENT PLANS TO SUPPORT THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF WATER   

The implementation of water technology must, therefore, respond to present and future challenges by improving the efficiency and operability of water utilities.

Therefore, many governments around the world are implementing plans and offering subsidies to boost water efficiency and resilience using water technology based on digital transformation, given the importance of water management. In this sense, the European Next Generation funds, the Spanish PERTE for the digital transformation of the water cycle, the USA water infrastructure investment plan, and the projects included in the framework of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, are just a few examples. This is a great opportunity for water utilities to engage in digital transformation projects, embrace new technologies and promote the circular economy, based on water planning that ensures sound water resource management.

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