How Can Technology Help Address Water Scarcity?
November last year saw the COP27 climate change conference take place in Egypt, with the water crisis taking centre stage on the official agenda of the event for the first time ever… and not without excellent reason.
Some 3.6 billion people face inadequate access to freshwater resources during at least one month per year right now, according to official UN figures… which also show that the number of urbanites around the world lacking safe and properly managed drinking water has risen by over 50 per cent since the year 2000.
It’s perhaps easy to think that water stress and scarcity is only problematic in rural, arid or underdeveloped parts of the world, but these issues are starting to make themselves felt increasingly in more affluent regions and global cities, as well – and as climate change deepens all around us, it will becoming increasingly important to find ways in which water and sanitation is made available to all, no matter where they live.
Tech to the rescue!
As dire as the situation may well seem, it’s not insurmountable and there is much that can be done to tackle the situation head on, helping the world achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #6.
Of course, different regions face their own different pressures where water is concerned, so there is no one size fits all approach that can be adopted, which is unfortunate… but what we are blessed with in the 21st century is a huge amount of technology at our fingertips, technology that can be deployed quickly and efficiently to address water security and safety.
Writing for the World Economic Forum, Anja Eimers – general manager of global water industry at Siemens – observed that we now have all the tools and resources we need to safeguard water supplies for future generations, particularly where water leakage is concerned.
Water mismanagement is one of the biggest threats to dwindling global supplies and, thankfully, it’s one of the areas of the water crisis that is actually relatively easy to resolve.
In England, three billion litres of water is lost through leakage alone each and every day, so making water leak detection and repair a top priority could make a significant difference to shortages in the future.
In the US, meanwhile, recent research found that utility companies lose around 17 per cent of all water resources to leaks each year, while the global volume of non-revenue water is thought to be 346 million cubic metres per day, which amounts to 30 per cent of water system input volumes around the world.
Furthermore, a Global Water Intelligence study shows that water networks account for 135 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, but reducing this by 30 per cent through leak prevention could make a big difference where the carbon footprint of global water infrastructure is concerned.
What technology is available?
As Ms Eimer goes on to explain, there are many ways in which water network leakage can be addressed and there is lots of innovative technology available to detect and localise leaks, no matter whether they’re tiny and barely noticeable or a huge burst making its presence felt.
Satellites, for example, can be used to help provide images that identify leaks in water pipelines, but there are also digital tools available that can take data from metering and automation systems to combine different methods of detecting leaks.
Cloud computing, AI and hydraulics simulations can also be used alongside data taken from the water distribution network to find hidden anomalies that could be an indication of a leak somewhere. This can help teams find problems more quickly and more precisely, allowing for targeted action that can reduce leakage times and rates.
However, while this technology is readily available, it seems that deployment is limited in some parts of the world, with Ms Eimer observing that water is still being viewed as an inexhaustible commodity, despite the fact that we’re all so heavily reliant upon it for wellbeing and socioeconomic growth.
She made mention of Denmark as a good example of what can be achieved through legislation, a country that has succeeded in bringing about some of the world’s lowest water losses through the introduction of a penalty on any losses above a ten per cent leakage threshold.
The expert concluded: “Practising water consciousness and efficiency is not only vital for reaching the targets of SDG 6 – it is also a lever to reduce our carbon footprint and minimise human impact on nature. Much more can be achieved if we use the right solutions.
“Digitalisation can serve as a major driver of savings and optimisation in the water and wastewater industry. So, let’s get serious about water.”
What can businesses do?
When it comes to reducing your water footprint, there’s a huge amount that businesses can do and focusing on water leaks would be an excellent place to start.
The problem with leaks is that they’re often so small that they’re barely noticeable, so you may not even know you’ve got a problem on your hands until it’s too late, or they happen far below ground, which makes them hard to identify.
However, the team here at H2o Building Services can help you find out whether you’ve got any issues across your site that may be wasting water, causing damage to your premises and costing you lots of money.
We use all the very latest innovative technology at our disposal to help our clients find leaks, so we can carry out all the necessary repairs as quickly as possible to minimise damage and disruption to your business. If you’d like to find out more about how we can achieve this, get in touch with the team today.