As the water infrastructure crisis frustrates policymakers across the country, an increasing number of water managers are looking to sensors and big data as ways to cut costs and save customers from rate hikes.
Busted water mains and leaky pipes are challenging water systems across the country. The definitive report on infrastructure, issued last month for the first time in four years, put a spotlight on the deep challenges the nation faces in upgrading its water and wastewater systems.
The U.S. received an overall grade of “D+” on the infrastructure report card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Wastewater and drinking water infrastructure scored a “D+” and a “D,” respectively.
Despite these troubling trends, industry analysts see hope for addressing the infrastructure crisis in an increasingly prevalent technology: sensors.
Bluefield Research, an intelligence firm with expertise in municipal and industrial water, recently released a new analysis on smart meter trends. The firm emphasized that growth in the smart meter industry is helping address the infrastructure funding gap.
“Cutting-edge, smart water solutions are gaining traction with municipal water utilities, which see data and analytics as critical tools for overcoming the age-old issue of crumbling water infrastructure. Over $20B is slated for metering, data management, and analytics from 2016 to 2025, globally,” Bluefield Research reported.
The analysis said financial pressures on water utilities are driving a demand for innovative solutions to costly problems, including leaky pipes and non-revenue water.
The analysts noted the significant impact smart meters have already had on the water industry. Results include “halving non-revenue water … and reducing energy consumption from 20 percent to 40 percent. As much as 30 percent of water utility operating expenditures can be improved almost immediately through more dynamic and real-time system monitoring,” according to Bluefield.
The report said the smart water sector will likely grow to $12B in the U.S. and $11B in Europe by 2025.
Keith Hays, Vice President of Bluefield Research, described current trends.
“By zeroing-in on key drivers of operating costs, water utilities are optimizing their operations with smart technologies,” he said in statement.
InsideBigData described how Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and big data solutions are helping the cash-strapped water utility industry lower their costs.
“In the utility sector, there is a huge opportunity for increasingly sophisticated data analysis as utilities understand the benefits of viewing their networks and assets in a catchment-to-tap way. This is driving spending on sensors and customer metering to obtain greater amounts of data about network and treatment process, and external data such as weather and geological information,” the report said.