The water industry has witnessed and experienced many changes over the last few years. Big data and actionable analytics are becoming exceedingly common as cities implement more advanced water utility technologies that help them proactively address issues, such as NRW (Non-Revenue Water) and UFW (Unaccounted-For-Water). Customer portals are gaining traction–providing citizen insight and empowerment not imagined before. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are also gaining momentum. These leaps in technological advances will transition smart utilities to address an issue before it becomes an emergency.
Regarding issues that we face today, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) produces an annual report highlighting the Top-10 most significant concerns facing water utilities today. The problems range from emergency preparedness, long-term water availability, regulatory compliance, and the aging workforce–the water professionals that provide us with clean drinking water every day. While these Top-10 concerns fluctuate yearly, the following have consistently been top challenges since 2021: 1) Aging Infrastructure, 2) Long-Term Supply, and 3) Financing Capital Improvements.
The future of advanced water technologies, which many have referred to for several years as Water 4.0, is exciting. New technologies in this sector will continue, but the actual impact will be determined by how a city interprets and responds to the real-time data that its smart data produce. Great technologies exist today, and so do proven project delivery mechanisms to help cities and towns enter the realm of Smart Water Utilities.