By Javier Barella
At the same time we are taught that water covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, which means that it is everywhere: in oceans, glaciers, rivers, lakes and in the atmosphere as clouds. But only 3 percent of water on earth is easy to treat for human consumption, and only 0.6 percent is easy to extract from rivers and lakes. So, is water really everywhere? If we consider that water is the source of life, then those industries operating in this environment have a duty to preserve this precious resource and are responsible to society in terms of sustainable development. And this is where the role of the water metering systems industry comes in.
In addition, water utilities are facing significant pressures: regulators, water authorities, private groups, governments and consumers are all demanding faster expansion and modernisation of the water supply. Many people do not realise how much technology is already needed to deliver water and collect sewage 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
But what they do expect is access to more technology to manage their water consumption. And this is also the role of the water metering systems industry – providing innovative applications for greater efficiency in water conservation, energy usage, water supply optimisation and asset management, domestic water usage and non-revenue water. In recent years, new practices have begun to emerge to reduce non-revenue water. Many companies have implemented extensive programmes to find leaks and have invested a lot of money to renovate their networks, despite the fact that water production and consumption has remained constant.
Metering management has become critical for water utilities. In particular, this is because many of the smallest leaks are not visible on the network, and also that the lowest flows are not recorded by many meters.
These losses are greater than people think, and they start from the day the meter is installed, with an almost immediate impact on metering accuracy, depending on water quality and the pressure of the water supply. Managing these variables can give immediate benefits by reducing consumption by price elasticity and by increasing revenue.
Therefore metering systems and technologies must respond to the needs of supply, and generate value for the water utilities in two ways, by:
- Protecting investments, as an effective means of controlling water resources
- Supporting the tariff regimes to ensure the sustainability of the water supply.
So efficient metering systems are the trend for water conservation, in order to minimise non-revenue water and to achieve the right supply/demand balance, and ultimately to provide a better understanding of how to manage the evolution of the water supply.
Optimising consumption recording and being proactive in water conservation requires a sustained system over time, to evaluate the performance of the meter over its lifetime, to provide more reliable data, and to enable more dynamic, real time information. To be successful in this role, water metering is a complete end-to-end solutions value chain.
This chain starts with the meter, registering consumer profiles and recording flows to build up a picture of how people consume water. Coupled with the meter is the facility to transmit and share this data in real time, in accordance with clients’ needs.
Further down the chain is the need to manage this information, along with other information such as pipe pressure or the kind of service required, whether it is directly through the network or indirectly via a water tank, or whether it is for houses, apartments, businesses or industries.
In the end, the new water metering system deployed must be able to support all the water utility’s activities, closing the loop between water production, distribution, and the end customer. This is the final role of the water metering industry, and it is key for economic growth and sustainable development.
Finally, the challenges for the water metering industry can be summarised as follows.
- The meter is a part of a system, which takes into account clients’ requirements, consumer profiles and the conditions of the water network
- Striking a balance over the life of the metering systems between consumption, water conservation and asset management is necessary.
- Public needs, regulations and partner industries must be integrated and co-ordinated.
And last but not least, more reliable information must be provided to create a deeper knowledge about our vital natural resources in order to shape our future.