Water Utilities: Traits and Trends

May 20, 2021


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water utilities trends blog

Gaëtane Suzenet is a prominent figure in the water and environmental sectors. For over 25 years she has been involved with start-ups, established utility companies, research, and the financing end of water management. Here’s just a partial list of the credentials that explain why people listen when Ms. Suzenet talks about upcoming trends in the water business: past Director of European Affairs at Water, UK—the professional association of water utilities workers in the UK; past Managing Director of the French Water Innovation Cluster, an investment committee that invested more than 20 million Euros in 19 different companies in the industrial water field; and past judge of the water and energy exchange, the WEX Global award. [1]

A Question for the Industry

Today Gaëtane Suzenet is a managing partner at International Impact Partners, an investment firm dedicated to environmental issues. Her question “Are we heading towards the water utility of the future or are we just facing the future of the water utility?”

Not just a play on words, Gaëtane claims that this is a legitimate question in the context of today’s digital revolution. With all of the innovative technologies emerging in the water industry, she believes that the world is heading towards the “utilities of the future.”

She goes on to say that the two main challenges and responsibilities of the water industry are to provide universal access to clean drinking water and proper treatment for wastewater.

Neither of these challenges is as clear cut as in the past. Where once the only goal of utilities and government regulators alike was to keep both drinking water and wastewater safe, today we are also more aware of the carbon footprint of the water industry. Regulations in most countries require not only safe water, but that utilities become more energy efficient so as to become carbon neutral or even energy positive.

This demand has created new opportunities for innovative startups in the ever changing business model of today’s water industry. From big industry turning to outside companies to manage their water systems to personalized hydration systems, smart money is investing in the water sector. [2]

Where the Smart Money is Going

And it’s not only private investors who are betting on startups in the water industry. The World Bank, an affiliate of the United Nations, is very aware of the global challenges in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030 and is willing to invest in young businesses that can help meet those goals. Whether it is technology that reuses wastewater as an energy source or smart metering that can automatically prevent leakage, they are aware that their investment in global water needs is sound business. [3]

5 Traits of the Water Utility in the Future

In an interview for Aquatech magazine Gaëtane Suzenet shared her vision of the five traits that will shape water utilities in the near future:

  • Though the water industry is still in the early stage of digitalization, the industry will become more and more dependent on digital water, especially for asset management.
  • The water utility will become a water and energy utility and any surplus energy that the water utility can generate will be sold on the open market.
  • Wastewater is a major resource and, with new technologies that are now becoming available, wastewater can become a major profit center if managed correctly.
  • With water utilities becoming decentralized and more competitive, as well as digitalization that makes communications with the customer just a click away, the water industry will be more customer oriented than ever.
  • FinTech (financial technology) will become a major part of how business is done in the water industry. Whether it be pay per use or the capability of segmenting different levels of water usage, novel financial applications will be a part of the industry’s economic structure. [4]

The Final Word

It is exciting to be on the brink of a new era in the world of water, with changes taking place in all sectors of the industry. From testing to wastewater to billing, the water industry is using cutting edge technology to become more efficient and customer oriented. And these changes are happening now.

The Arad Group, which has always been at the forefront of both digitalization and customer service, is proud to be a part today of the water industry of the future.


[1] Alison Ireland, Gaetane Suzenet announced as WEX awards judge, December 18, 2019

[2] Gaëtane Suzenet, 5 Traits of water utilities in the future, January 16, 2020

[3] Chloe Oliver Viola How innovations will advance water sustainability and resilience worldwide, June 15, 2020

[4] Gaëtane Suzenet, 5 Traits of water utilities in the future, January 16, 2020


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