Several recently published research reports have been uniformly upbeat about the forecasted growth of the smart water meter market. With smart metering in the electricity and gas sectors approaching maturity, smart water meters are now expected to be the growth drivers in the smart meter market.
ABI Research, for example, predicts that double-digit growth in the smart meter market will lead to 1.2 billion connections by 2022, driven primarily by the installation of smart water meters. Although North America currently has the largest install base of smart water meters, by 2018 Europe will have that distinction. 
Global Market Insights expects the smart water metering market to be worth $14 billion by 2024, with 290 million new units installed during the forecast period. About 17% (50 million) of those installations will be within the context of AMI smart water management solutions. 
Transparency Market Research forecasts that the water meter segment will grow from a value of $3.5 billion in 2015 to $5.2 billion by the end of 2024, driven primarily by smart water meters that leverage cutting edge ultrasonic and electromagnetic technologies. 
As shown in the graph below, Bluefield Research foresees that $20 billion will be spent over the next decade in the US alone on smart water upgrades, with smart meters accounting for the lion’s share. 
So, if it’s true that smart water meters are driving the smart meter market, then what’s driving the smart water meter market? Here are three key growth factors.
Driver 1: Technology Advances
Advances in ultrasonic and other volumetric measuring technologies are making smart water meters more precise and more reliable than ever before. But, as important as they are, smart water meters operate within holistic smart water management solutions – solutions that are being empowered by an entire range of technology advances from next-generation networks like LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) networks; to IoT machine-to-machine interfaces; to big data analytics and more.
Driver 2: Government Regulations and Investments
Population growth, accelerated urbanization and climate change are all significant stress factors on long-term water sustainability. With access to clean drinking water a basic human right, governments at all levels (national, state, municipal) set and enforce standards for water utilities. Mandated adoption of smart water meters and smart water management solutions is becoming the norm in both developed and emerging economies.
Governments are also investing in — or encouraging investment in — the infrastructures that are essential for impactful smart meter deployments. Thus, for example, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created the $4 billion Clean Water State Revolving Fund for projects that will repair the nation’s clean water infrastructure. And in 2012, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology unveiled the 12th Five-Year Plan focusing on the development of intelligent grids, household and cities, including an investment of $294 billion in water resource projects. 
Driver 3: Operational Optimization
Smart water meters and the data that they generate provide actionable insights for water utilities about how they can optimize their water distribution operations, improve billing and consumer engagement, and reduce NRW.
But water utilities are not the only big players using smart water meters to optimize water usage. Industry accounts for 20% of water consumption worldwide. Industrial plants are also driving the adoption of smart water meters as part of their strategic goal to reduce water usage. They are not only enhancing profit margins by reducing costs, they are also strengthening their corporate citizenship profiles. The commercial smart water metering market share is expected to grow by more than 15% by 2024. 
If it takes a whole village to raise a child, it takes an entire ecosystem to make water management smart. Many thanks to Bluefield Research  for the infographic below, which clearly shows the value chain and key stakeholders in the US smart water market. Just as a rising tide raises all boats, growth in each one of the smart water segments – from smart water meters to managed service providers – will have a positive impact on the entire market.
 Water Utilities Drive Global Smart Meter Connection Growth to 1.2 Billion Connections in 2022,March 20, 2017
 Global Market Insights, Smart Water Metering Market worth $14bn by 2024, April 19, 2017
 Transparency Market Research, Water Meter Market: Invention of Smart Water Meter to Drive Adoption, April 21, 2017
 Water Online, Convergence Of Water And Data Drives $20B U.S. Smart Water Forecast, May 3, 2017