Utilities entrusted to supply sustainable, clean drinking water have their hands full eliminating contaminants of emerging concern and ensuring that reactions in the distribution system do not produce separate contamination issues. Dealing with certain contaminants are proving increasingly challenging.
There’s no doubt that the technological advances of the past decade — artificial intelligence, cloud-based software, autonomous equipment, drones, remote sensors, mobile devices, machine learning and virtual reality — have improved operational efficiency, productivity and resiliency, moving us into the digital age faster and farther than we ever imagined.
Access to clean water remains a critical component of any community, but unfortunately, water stresses are a reality for far too many, particularly those in the arid West and Southwest. Concerns over funding, aging infrastructure and resilience are not new, echoing the worries and priorities of years past.
During the spring of 2019, record-breaking floods inundated the Midwest and overwhelmed the water and wastewater treatment facilities. That searing experience, coupled with increased recognition of the vulnerability of low-lying coastal areas to seawater surges, has spurred concerns about the resilience of our nation’s water infrastructure.
America’s water infrastructure is deteriorating quickly, causing increasing failures because adequate investments haven’t been made in rehabilitation or replacement. Not surprisingly, aging infrastructure is the major worry for respondents to Black & Veatch’s 2020 Strategic Directions: Water Report survey.
Climate change and the resulting fluctuations in weather events are changing the game for utilities as increasing numbers of devastating floods, droughts, snowpack changes and ferocious wildfires alter our assumptions about water security and supply. The climate change picture is bleak.
For decades, talk of water has rested on philosophical premises, ranging from arguments that it’s a human right to insistences that it’s a property right or even a commodity. Regardless of the philosophical posture, potable water is anything but free.
Aging infrastructure and the graying of the industry’s retirement-bound workforce remains a vexing issue, decades in the making. Climate change continues to test the ability of water utilities either to provide enough water or effectively handle historic inundations. All of this compounded by a global pandemic.
The 2020 Strategic Directions: Water Report – melding analyses of leading experts and a survey of nearly 300 stakeholders in the North American sphere of water and wastewater – examines the issues and trends impacting today’s water industry at a time when matters couldn’t be more complex.
Water utilities take on the difficult job of ensuring that water always will be safe and that capacity always will be available. This is becoming an increasingly difficult task, given unforeseen events such as the COVID-19 pandemic that compound the chronic issues with aging water infrastructure and an aging workforce.
Water is the first industrial sector in the UK to commit to a carbon zero future by 2030. In the nearer term water companies in England and Wales need to achieve a 16 percent cut in leakage by 2025. Historically leakage reduction has not been considered as a viable carbon reduction tool. With the combination of NetZero commitments and AMP7 leakage targets, however, this may be about to change.
The USEPA requires that drinking water has a disinfectant residual when it reaches end users like businesses and residences, but over a period of a month or longer, the stagnant water inside unused buildings will lose its disinfectant residual. Water that lacks a disinfectant residual while exposed to plumbing materials could result in microbial growth including Legionella, buildup of disinfection byproducts and corrosive conditions that result in metals leaching.
Emerging technologies, particularly those required for distributed asset management, are enabling and demanding greater grid connectivity to leverage new advancements in data analytics, grid asset management and customer applications. But with heightened connectivity comes heightened risk, as these same devices that offer so much promise can also serve as vulnerable entry points into sensitive enterprise networks.
The vroom of idling delivery trucks and revving sports cars, so familiar up to recently, will soon be a distant sound. What noise, then, will children make when they race their toy cars and trucks down driveways and across colorfully printed cityscape rugs?
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