By Dr. Sreeram Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer, Syrma Technology
80% of all diseases in the developing world are water related. Clean drinking water will soon become the most valuable resource in the world. Over one billion people in developing countries already don’t have access to safe drinking water. Not only are we using up our available water supply, which is finite, our population continues to grow. By 2025, the UN estimates that 30% of the world’s population residing in 50 countries will face water shortage. Agriculture alone can consume up to 90% of a region’s available freshwater, and we only have 2.5% of freshwater left to drink. Yet, on a daily basis, we use 10 billion tons of freshwater worldwide.
Water Conservation Strategies
There are many different options that can be used to conserve and protect our water supply. One option is to recycle water. For instance, roughly 90% of the wastewater generated in Israel is reclaimed; 20% is reclaimed in Spain. However, the cost of recycled water exceeds that of potable water in many countries, where a fresh water supply exists. Reclaimed water systems usually require a dual-piping network, often with additional storage tanks, which adds to the costs of the system. There are also difficulties in isolating inorganic and organic pollutants.
Another option is desalination, which involves removing salt from seawater. Kuwait already desalinates 100% of its water use. However, the cost of untreated fresh water in developing countries can reach US $5 per cubic meter, especially in places that are both far from the sea and high. Desalination plants need to be placed on ~25 acres of land on or near the shoreline. This option also produces large quantities of brine and generates harmful chemicals that can leach into aquifers, etc.
New water conservation techniques desperately need to be created and used to prevent a global water shortage. Both reclaiming and desalinating water are expensive processes, as well as require the use of large amounts of energy, which generates air pollution. Desalination also removes iodine from water, which increases the risk of iodine deficiency disorders in people. Increased water conservation and efficiency still remain the most cost-effective approaches in areas with a large potential to improve the efficiency of water use practices.
IoT-Enabled Smart Water Meters
Metering water supply provides an incentive to conserve water which protects water resources, postpones costly system expansion, saves energy and chemical costs, allows suppliers to charge for water based on use, and is the fairest way to allocate the costs of water supply to users. However, most cities are still using analog meters to measure water usage in homes and business. These meters are unable to report water usage to the water authorities or to the owners of the residence or business as they lack connectivity. When someone wants to check water usage, they have to go and read the meters themselves.
Water-stressed countries are leading the shift from traditional water meters to smart water meters, even as governments all over the world alter policies to enhance the effectiveness of their water networks to manage consumption levels. Connected smart meters leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technology, such as sensors and mobile apps, enable owners to view their water usage more easily and to receive alerts if they’re using too much water. By using this technology, smart water meters enhance revenue generation, predict consumption patterns, and improve billing efficiency.
There’s already a steady rise in the demand for IoT-enabled smart water meters due to their multiple capabilities of real-time visualization, leak detection, and machine-to-machine communications. Smart water meter installations are expected to grow from 13.8 million units in 2017 to 82.1 million units by 2026. China is the fastest growing market due to its rapid urbanization, smart city development, and favorable policies. The USA is also experiencing high demand due to its utilities’ focus on reducing non-revenue water losses and adopting smart billing.
Syrma: India’s Green Manufacturer
Our team cares about protecting our natural environment and resources. Over the years, we’ve designed and manufactured many products that are designed to be eco-friendly. For example, we’ve produced water sensors for a large overseas government. These smart sensors track water consumption per region, as well as detect leaks, to conserve water usage. We’ve also assisted with the development of a similar product, which is a line of electronic indoor air quality monitors that are used to detect pollutants emitted within power facilities.
We’re particularly proud of our recent certification as a Green-Rated Supplier on sustainability by one of our primary clients, a leading international electronics corporation ranking among the Forbes Global 500. Several of our other clients have been likewise impressed with our strong environmental record, indicating that they want to do more when it comes to helping preserve our environment while we still can.
About the author:
Dr. Sreeram Srinivasan is the Chief Executive Officer of Syrma Technology. Prior to joining Syrma in 2015, he worked for the Murugappa Group, Saint-Gobain and TVS among others. An alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, he completed his Master’s and PhD in Material Sciences and Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University. He has also conducted research at the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Labs.