There’s no denying that technology has pervaded our lives, both personal and professional. From our cell phones and smart watches to artificial intelligence and space exploration, we are employing innovative tools that would have been unimaginable just 50 years ago.
Over the past few decades, the water industry has begun to embrace technology as well. Sensors, monitors, and process control advancements, to name a few, have equipped operators with the data and capabilities to “see” (sometimes quite literally) into their systems, warning them when something is awry and allowing them to head off problems before they become catastrophes.
Water meters, in particular, have come a long way since their first commercial designs over 200 years ago. What emerged as a tool essentially for billing customers has evolved into a critical data collection instrument at the point of delivery, providing not only usage information but visibility into supply and demand management as well.
With much of our water infrastructure well into its golden years, failures have become more prevalent. Water main breaks and hidden leaks coupled with rapid urbanization and population growth have stressed many of our centralized water systems to their breaking point. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) estimates it will cost about $1.7 trillion to repair and expand underground water infrastructure to meet growing demand and maintain current levels of service through 2050. (1)
Funding opportunities exist, but they are limited — and fall far short of the estimated investment need. Now, more than ever, water utilities are under tremendous pressure to prepare financial strategies that align with their mission to provide safe, clean drinking water to their communities while responding to the myriad challenges at hand.
This is where technology is presenting an enormous opportunity for optimizing asset management. Digital tools, like advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), can provide real-time insights across the water distribution system, helping water utilities make informed decisions about management — and react more quickly when unexpected issues arise. Furthermore, by leveraging the power of predictive analytics and machine learning, water utilities can not only see what is happening in the distribution system but anticipate when and where a failure might occur, transforming the business of water management.
Understanding the benefits of AMI technology is not the challenge, however; justifying the investment and finding the means to pay for it is. To that end, Master Meter has teamed up with Water Finance & Management to develop an indispensable resource for any water system considering the implementation of new technology at their utility. The newly published eBook, “Smart Water Meets Finance,” takes an in-depth look at the economic climate for technology investment in water, examines the importance of accurate metering for a financially healthy water system, and includes a real-world case study.
The eBook is available online and free of charge. Download it today at https://waterfm.com/smart-water-meets-finance/.
- Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge, AWWA, 2013. https://www.awwa.org/Portals/0/AWWA/Government/BuriedNoLonger.pdf?ver=2013-03-29-125906-653