Like many other critical sectors, the water industry will have its fair share of issues and complexities. Some may be easy to overcome while others remain a constant dilemma. Economic and unpredictable global events will continue to shape the industry and some of these could have a lasting impact on how the industry moulds its future. Other glaring problems include aging infrastructure, climate change, work force sustainability, innovation, and supply-chain issues.
Notwithstanding that, it’s now time to consider which obstacles are a threat and how the industry can turn such into opportunities that benefit businesses, their customers and perhaps most importantly, the environment on a long term.
The Water Industry is facing a myriad of issues which makes the challenges just extracts of some of the concerns that global water fraternity currently are or will face over the coming period. According to some industry experts, the growing effects of extreme weather can create opportunities considering the smart technologies available. There are several challenges as well as opportunities impacting the water industry throughout the next decade. Most climate changes are related to water in one way or another by affecting agricultural production, sea level rise, wildfires, drought and extreme weather.
Water pollution will also be an issue on a global scale. Sea level rise and extreme storm surges will affect coastal areas where approximately half of the global population in 2025 will be living within 200 km from the coast. Several measures can be taken to protect coastal communities against severe future flooding. Hard engineering structures such as seawalls, dikes and levees can help in some areas, but more sophisticated technologies such as modelling software and simulations can enable understanding of the vulnerabilities and suggest solutions to best address storm surge risk and capacity of the storm water infrastructure. Population growth will further add to this conundrum, to say the least.
According to the UN, the world population is expected to reach more than nine billion people in 2050. To make sure there is enough food to feed this growing population, it is estimated that the global food production needs to be increased by 70%. This includes growth in wheat and crop production. It also requires more arable land, with more extensive and efficient irrigation. All of this will challenge water resources and ecosystems. To be sustainable, efficient irrigation management and technics such as erosion risk management, early flood warning systems and precision farming systems are all methods that can be used to optimize agricultural production using minimum amounts of water which represents opportunities to decrease lifetime maintenance costs, improve environmental response times, improve community response services and communication, and ensure consistent water supply to remote and urban areas through reliable monitoring methods.
Capabilities like this will ultimately help the water industry meet new demand, better manage assets and services, and maintain operational costs all the while providing faster, better systems for the long term.