The Challenges of Achieving Water Sustainability

Utilities 5 Jul 2022 by Dan Thomas

The challenge

With water demand rising and the threat of extreme weather increasing, cities are facing challenges around water supply. This can be a complex issue of raising population, ageing infrastructure and lack of funding.

Regulations are changing in the water industry in order to push companies to up their game. Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 there is a duty to co-operate, in the exercise of companies’ effectual drainage functions (section 94 Water Industry Act 1991). Cooperation requires effective data sharing, OfWat have published their standards on open data which means making data freely accessible to everyone unless there’s a justification for keeping it private. 

On top of that, the government has set a number of actions that water companies must complete before 2025 in order to meet environmental obligations. 

The response

As we move towards making our cities “smart”, connectivity and data are key components needed to innovate around some of the challenges we face. To overcome the challenges associated with these issues involves unlocking the full potential of data.

SES Water’s innovation manager Jeremy Heath is one of the water industry’s leading voices on the implementation of IoT technology. He spoke to Utility Week about how water companies are further ahead with ‘above ground investment’ than ‘below ground investment’ – and here, with the deployment of sensors on pipe and sewer networks, the potential for IoT is huge. 

“It’s about getting data where you don’t have it, and enhancing data where you do,” he said.
In fact, according to a recent Grundfos report, less than 1% of data is effectively used. The report details the costly reality of making non-data driven decisions. In light of this evidence, the water industry is starting to harness the power of data. 

In response to the challenges and being faced by the water industry and the regulation that comes with it, some are managing flood risks virtually, as written about in an article for Envirotech magazine. In the case of Arup’s digital twin solution, powered by its bespoke algorithm and IOTICS’ platform, network operators are able to act preemptively, leading to reduced operational costs and greater efficiency. 

It uses digital twin technology,

“an intelligent system that provides virtual representation of physical entities, data management and interactive feedback to the real-world process,” the article states. “This intelligence can help water utilities ensure regulatory compliance in areas such as sewer flooding, pollution management, and network capacity. And it can help address challenges such as legacy infrastructure, increasing usage demands and the effects of climate change.”

Do you want to rise to meet the challenges of the water industry today? Contact us to find out how. 

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