Is Smart Water Infrastructure Closer Than We Think?


Smart Water typically conjures up images of Jennifer Aniston drinking the perfect bottled water next to a pristine lake out in the middle of nowhere. That’s not the type of smart water we’re talking about here. So, what exactly does “smart water” really mean? After all, we all hear about how everything is getting smarter, our phones and thermostats, but how do we make water smart?

Smart Water Infrastructure is the idea that by implementing smart infrastructure and using information technology we can optimize a utilities capability while maintaining a proactive approach to any issues that might arise.  

The rising marginal cost of producing clean water together with increasing demand and higher expectations of reliability and quality of service leaves municipal water utilities facing an uphill battle of trying to manage outdated systems with very limited resources.

In many cities across the US, as well as globally, rainfall has become an enormous source of pollution. Every year, an estimated 10 trillion gallons of untreated storm water washes off paved surfaces, through sewer systems, and into waterways, making the public susceptible to more and more waterborne illness in our public spaces. More than 750 cities have sewage systems that regularly overflow into nearby waterways during intense rainstorms. Raw sewage, motor oil, and other pollutants can end up contaminating water supplies and public beaches, increasing health risks, wreaking havoc on ecosystems, as well the economic implications.

Implementing smart water infrastructure is a holistic approach to understanding what’s going on with the entire water system not just one component. Many challenges facing water utilities, include leak detection and management, as well as regulation compliance. Utilities can improve performance by integrating systems in a way that show exactly where specific problem areas are.  Once the information has been gathered utilities will then be able to accurately set goals, plan for capital upgrades and in turn provide higher quality service.

The to the success of integrating smart technology into our utilities will be to keep the community informed of projects the cities are working on, establishing relationships with universities in the areas, as well as, engaging the public for feedback and help educating the population at large. As more and more cities are pushing legislation through to mandate clean water acts you will see a how important smart water infrastructure will be to our future of resource planning.