Trends in Water Management 2021

February 25, 2021

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Without a doubt 2020 has had profound effects on the world in every imaginable way and probably in some ways that we can’t yet imagine. The stress and fear that were the hallmarks of 2020 motivated the water sector to take all measures necessary to ensure access to clean water and proper wastewater treatment as its part in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. Many of these measures are proving to be trendsetters for 2021 and beyond.

2020 Water Successes

  • The World Bank teamed up with Imagine H2O, a non-profit organization, to fund technologies that support global water sustainability. Many of the new businesses involve providing farmers in remote locations with real time digital information that was previously not available to them, including moisture levels in their fields and imminent weather conditions. The farmers also got mobile management platforms.
    Other innovative technologies supported by the World Bank and Imagine H2O include flood risk detection, DNA fingerprinting technology to discover the source of water pollutants, and wave powered autonomous desalination plants for small island communities. {1}

 

  • Last year showed major improvements in irrigation methods. For example, by switching to micro-sprinklers, the next generation of drip irrigation, farms and orchards along the Colorado River are finally resolving the chronic problem of salt and selenium runoff. The problem had been so bad that salt running off in Western Colorado affected the quality of water all the way south to Mexico. [2]

 

  • Private business initiatives play an important role in stabilizing and improving the world’s water situation. In 2020, two business giants, PepsiCo and Microsoft, initiated major programs to replenish 100% of the water used in the manufacturing of their products. [3]

Digital Water is Here

Despite the successes of 2020, municipalities across the globe suffered heavily from loss of funds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the spirit of necessity being the mother of invention, these losses are driving the digitalization of the water sector. Digitalization is at the forefront of the battle to keep water costs and water waste to a minimum. Artificial intelligence-based systems leverage big data not only to tell you how much water has been used at which locations, but also to predict where and when water will be used in the immediate and more distant future.

In fact, a new project out of Duke University, the Internet of Water, is uniting communities in the United States into a national network of users, hubs and producers to share standardized water usage information and new technologies to create a modern water data infrastructure.  After considerable success in the US, the Internet of Water plans on going global in 2021. [4]

Other 2021 Trends of Note

The financial strain on local governments and municipalities has opened a new market for third-party contractors to take over water management and billing. This outsourcing arrangement allows local governments to lower their operational costs.

Even infrastructure is undergoing a makeover. Not just next year, but over the course of the next decade many steel and iron pipes will be replaced with different types of plastic pipes such as PE, HDPE and PVC. The US alone has over 2 million miles of pipes for drinking water and using these new materials that do not leak and are cheaper to repair and replace will save time, money and water. [5]

The Final Note

The past year has been a burden and a challenge for all business sectors in every corner of the world. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, many businesses, governments, as well as academia have accelerated the adoption of innovative digital technologies to ensure that our water sources will remain clean and not be a factor in the spread the pandemic.

Digitization has been and will continue to be the key trend in water management. It saves person-hours and water and, because of the mega-data collected, it ensures more accurate billing for water usage.

An interesting added value is that local governments are finding that digitalizing water management is an easy sell to the public. The technology jargon has appeal to the masses. Terms like “Smart Cities” give a feeling of pride to the local community. Citizens are pleased to know that their tax dollars are going to help sustain our natural resources and save money at the same time.

We at Arad are proud to be a part of the digital future, today.

References

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