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A growing number of cities find themselves in desperate need of upgrades to their drinking water and stormwater systems. And states affected by droughts are struggling to manage dwindling water resources. Many of these agencies are turning to advanced technology that can monitor data in real time to replace their aging, ineffective infrastructure.

These upgrades fall under the umbrella of “smart water”. A water system is part of a city, county or state’s critical infrastructure, so managing this system effectively, efficiently and securely is of great importance. Smart water systems collect information about how the system is operating, such as data about the flow, pressure and distribution of water, and monitor water infrastructure systems for potential problems.

A recent report projects global revenue from smart water networks and products to grow from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $7.2 billion in 2025. And a large amount of that growth is expected to come from public agencies in the United States. More and more agencies – especially smart cities – will be building smart water networks in the coming years, and reaping the benefits by conserving water and saving money.

Smart Cities Incorporating Smart Water Systems

Water utilities are under pressure to deliver quality drinking water to all of their citizens, and effectively managing wastewater, while still maintaining a reasonably low cost. This has been complicated in recent years with a higher level of visibility into the aging infrastructure of many cities’ water systems, most notably in Flint, Michigan.

Agencies with tight budgets have historically found it difficult to justify overhauling their entire water system. But this has begun to change recently. State, local and education agencies across the country have recognized the importance of investing in drinking water infrastructure upgrades.

14% Growth in awards for water systems over past 12 months<br />

Onvia’s database of government contracts has found a 14% growth rate in the number of awards for water systems over the last year.

Smart water products and technologies are expected to be a major part of the upgrades to these systems. The new, smart water meters replacing the old ones can easily be made to track patterns in water usage, and provide the agency implementing them with actionable and relevant information.

One benefit is minimizing water leaks. As the Smart Cities Council writes: “Providing early warnings of potential water leakage using real-time usage readings from households can prevent high-risk situations that lead to large reparation expenses or liability payouts.” Water leak detectors can help alert an agency to a leaky pipe as early as possible, saving valuable time and money.

Smart Water Irrigation Key in the South and Southwest

Cities in the United States, particularly in the southwest, face more droughts every year. This makes conserving water resources crucial, particularly irrigation management, as measures must be taken to intelligently make use of every drop of available water.

One example of smart irrigation comes from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The agency moving toward using cloud-based technology and analytics to manage water more efficiently.

A sensor-based sprinkler, to use one example, can respond in real time to soil conditions. If soil is sufficiently irrigated, the sprinklers cut themselves off, eliminating water waste and maximizing the crops that come from that particular portion of land. 

The biggest government purchasing hotspots for these types of water and wastewater management contracts are states in the geographic south of the country, like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. Smart water providers should target government agencies in these areas, particularly those already developing their own smart city projects.

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