After more than 7 long years, the state of California in the US, for the first time, became drought-free in March 2019. A wet winter showered the state with rain and covered its mountain peaks with snow, helping it to avert the water crisis.
From 2011 to 2018 the state of California in USA witnessed a series of drought-like conditions due to harsh climate conditions. The state witnessed its driest season during this period since record-keeping began in 1895. In fact, according to report by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the state was out of water for 376 consecutive weeks. Both the urban and rural communities in the state were affected adversely and the CA government was tempted to take drastic steps to tackle water scarcity.
In January 2014, the state imposed a drought emergency to improve water management. Water usage in the urban areas was slashed by 25% and more than $3 billion worth of relief fund was authorized by the government. A Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was also passed by the Californian authorities to facilitate management of groundwater and support practices like wastewater recycling and stormwater capture.
These practices helped the state to face drought during this period; however, it wasn’t until March that the new water year kicked off with surplus. The water reservoirs for the first time in 7 years averaged in excess by the grace of nature.
The big problem:
It is really difficult to comprehend the fact that without a wet winter, California would have suffered for more years. Various steps taken by the CA government were also ineffective to completely curb the water crisis.
Water scarcity is not a problem in a single state or country. It is a global threat that is affecting our lives in a way we cannot even fathom. According to a study, around 1.2 billion people are already living in areas affected by water scarcity. By the end of 2025, this number is estimated to grow substantially, tempting two-third of the world population to live in water-stressed conditions. It is therefore necessary to take preventive measures immediately in order to fight the world drought.
Enhancement in disruptive technologies like Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence have encouraged the development of smart water management systems. These systems are embedded with autonomous features and high-end telematics capabilities that allow them to visualize consumption patterns and detect anomalies in the water distribution network.
Enters smart water meter:
Traditional water meters allowed water utilities to record the water consumed by a household or an industry and bill them accordingly. They do not offer any benefits in terms of preventive analytics or telemetry. Moreover, these meters are incapable to fulfill the sustainable development policies made to reduce water wastage and contamination.
Blended with IoT competencies, a smart water meter is an update of the conventional water meters. It measures and describes the volume of water used by an individual or a business and send it directly to the water provider. It can also measure other parameters that the traditional meters cannot, like temperature and flow of the water in the pipelines.
The parameters once monitored and collected are analyzed through a computational function and transmitted to a centralized platform. The smart water meters are also capable of sharing information about its condition and performance. For example, the meter will alert the utilities if its accuracy decreases or if it stops counting.
In layman's terms:
A smart water meter is an innovative device that measures, analyzes, and communicates water-related data
The use of smart water meters is to assist utilities to measure water consumption, detect anomalies in the water distribution network, and enhance conservation efforts. Let us explore some of the benefits:
1) Reduce water losses:
In France, around 30% of the drinking water produced is not paid for. This is due to unidentified losses in the form of water pipe leakages, frauds, and defective meters. A smart water meter integrated into a home measures its water consumption and transmit it to the utility. By combining the data of homes in a locality it is possible to verify if the sector yield is good or not.
In other words, a water provider can make sure that:
Quantity of water consumed = Quantity of water delivered
2) Detecting inappropriate consumption of water:
Smart water meters are enabling the development of smart water management systems. These systems when integrated with the complete water distribution network can detect the flow of water in the pipelines. This helps the provider to detect anomalies in the water network in terms of leaks and pipe bursts. Remote water flow monitoring also assists the utility to detect water theft and inappropriate consumption.
3) Identifying customer inefficiencies:
Water meters are also capable to detect end-users water consumption in specific locations. For example, the meter can measure the amount of water a person uses for bathing, washing, and general purposes. By monitoring the volume and time of water consumption, a smart meter can detect the inefficiencies of the user and help him to adopt responsible water usage habits.
Automatic water management systems can also be integrated to effectively manage water in outdoor applications. For example, automatic sprinkler system can be used in sports fields and farms to keep the grass/crops fresh with the minimum usage of water.
On a concluding note:
Water is our lifeline. There is no alternative to it. It is therefore very important for us to optimally utilize the 2% of earth’s usable water. Smart Water Meter is a powerful tool that has enabled us to reduce water wastage and consume it wisely. In our fight against water scarcity, smart water meters are going to help utilities to provide clean water to everyone. With it we can ensure that there are no more drought-affected areas and locations with water shortages in the world.