Water: The most precious asset
Although we live in a period of massive publicization, the rules which governed the very earliest centers of population still apply: the limits of the water supply dictate the limits of public development. However, for today’s water management professionals, the challenges reach far beyond production, transport, storage and distribution.
Water remains the most precious of all our natural assets and the massive increase in demand for water can place an almost impossible strain on resources. Worldwide, we consume around one billion liters of water every six seconds.
In our homes, we use baths, showers, washing machines and dishwashers. Domestic metering is not yet the norm in all countries, and most people are more likely to think about power than water consumption.
Industrial and agricultural
Around 70% of the world’s water is consumed by agriculture, with industry of every kind getting thirstier. It can take, for example, as much as 4,000 liters of water to produce a single liter of biofuel. Water is also essential for power generation.
Our cities and civil authorities are massive consumers too, requiring a constant high-volume supply for everything from street cleaning and irrigation to leisure activities.
But it’s not just usage which changes.
Water management authorities need to plan and fund a continual cycle of maintenance and renewal of aging infrastructure — dealing with leaks in parallel with extension into newly developed areas.
Regulation and deregulation create new models of private and public partnership, in which water companies must deliver both service to consumers and a financial return to their shareholders.
Beneath all this activity, one imperative is constant: water supply and water quality must remain of paramount importance. Every water company must ensure that where water is declared potable, it is protected against both accidental and malicious contamination.
From reactive to predictive
In all these activities, the nature of information is changing. Fragmented silos are shifting to big data models. We are moving from reporting to real-time — from the need to gather information after the event to the need to produce current intelligence which is immediately actionable.
The most important element here is to make the shift from “reactive” to “predictive,” which will create clear benefits for your company, your clients and for our environment.
- Incidents can be identified and rectified before they become serious and costly to correct
- Continuous analysis of water quality and demand allows treatment to be fine-tuned — saving resources, chemicals, energy and money while lowering health risks
- Customers become actively involved in the service relationship — modifying their own behavior for a better deal and lower peak consumption
To make this change happen, it is important to adopt common platforms, standards and practices.