The adoption of smart water network technologies such as intelligent devices and advanced IT systems will be slowed by the lack of readily available power sources, financing and other challenges that will cause the long-term transformation of the water industry to take decades, and not years, according to a by Navigant Research report.
The research firm estimates the global smart water networks market will expand from $1.1 billion in annual revenue in 2013 to more than $3.3 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of 12.8 percent. Cumulative investment over the 10 years covered in the forecast will total more than $20 billion, according to the report.
The Smart Water Networks report says water scarcity, aging infrastructure, leakage and non-revenue water and utility operations savings will drive the market towards the adoption of smart water network technology.
However, that adoption will be an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, process, the report says.
Smart water networks will help utilities reduce non-revenue water losses and improve their operational efficiency and they’re a key piece of the water industry’s transition to an integrated data-centric business that uses intelligent devices, IT and communications networks to better manage water and energy resources, reduce leaks and improve customer services.
However, deployment of this technology will be slowed by several challenges, the biggest of which is the physical conditions that govern water distribution such as the inaccessibility of pipelines and the lack of a readily available power source. Other issues slowing the adoption of these technologies include a conservative approach to changes in operations processes and the need to work within a governance model often suspicious of innovation, the report says.
Aging infrastructure is the most pressing concern for the water utility industry, according to research released in June 2012 by engineering and consulting company Black & Veatch.
In the study, the firm asked industry members including municipal departments, special districts, municipalities and counties to rank the most pressing concerns facing their industry. On a scale of one to five – with one indicating “very unimportant” and five indicating “very important” – aging water and sewer infrastructure received a score of 4.59.