KISTERS continues to support Smart Water Networks Forum or SWAN Forum, the international and industry-wide call for smart water technologies in order to sustain water and wastewater utility operations. Partnerships among utilities and solutions providers seek to inform and emboldened other utilities interested in learning from these experiences and improving operations on the basis of better quality data.
The biggest challenges facing the water industry are water loss, water quality, and affordability or customer service. Today's smart water technologies can help water utilities management address resolve what can be long-term threats to water security.
With jarring changes in weather patterns, dwindling source water supply and shortages are valid concerns. Water leaked or lost through inefficient infrastructure adds to water scarcity. In addition, inaccurately metered distribution systems further limits the availability of water.
When water utility managers step back and consider the entirety of the water cycle, stormwater must be taken into account. To help compensate for water loss, stormwater capture and reuse is gaining popularity. However, monitoring of water quality and runoff (from agricultural activities as well as urban areas) is important for regulatory compliance as well as public safety. Concentrated amounts of nutrient pollution, in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus, combined with temperature, sunlight and low flow or stagnant water can trigger an algal bloom.
Replacing aging infrastructure to limit water loss, chemical and more innovative treatment of water and wastewater, as well as energy utilized by water recycling and treatment plants quickly adds up. The bulk of operational costs are shared by customers and shouldered by government for low-income ratepayers.
Smart Water Technology
Implementing a combination of intelligent, or computerized, hardware and data analytics software helps to control skyrocketing operational costs and ensure safe, clean water services. Sensors in distribution networks prioritize precise locations in urgent need of infrastructure replacement before failure occurs and customers complain. Data from water quality probes can translate into more accurate orders of water treatment chemicals. Reducing inefficient energy use can also bring down water rates, as bills have been rising much faster than the rate of inflation.
Risks & Rewards
Despite the benefits of deploying smart technologies, either hardware or software, utility managers who truly value water and willing to take calculated risks have been rewarded. Our earliest clients understood that business couldn't carry on as usual. Some were prompted by national security; other utilities grew to an enormous scale and need access to reliable, nonredundant information enterprise-wide. Each water utility strategically identified different aspects of uncertainty, began to gather more information, and continue to refine operational decisions as well as long-term planning along the way.
Most of all, management recognized the cost of doing nothing was too expensive.
Our international colleagues are working with federal and provincial agencies in Pakistan to tackle the water-food-energy nexus, because complacency or inaction isn't a viable option. The opportunity costs only increase.