Smart water networks are key to combating drought across Australia

Sensus Australia

By Mary Wilson, Director Smart Metering, Sensus
Wednesday, 14 October, 2015


Smart water networks are key to combating drought across Australia

Over the past year, rainfall totals dipped to their lowest on record for parts of Australia. In July, the Bureau of Meteorology warned of serious or severe deficiencies for most of the western two-thirds of Victoria.

Unfortunately, Victoria is not the only area affected by drought or water scarcity. Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) confirmed in August 2015 that parts of the south-east are experiencing drought conditions and that without money for remedial action there is concern for the agricultural industry from primary industry leaders such as Livestock SA (ABC).

While regulating water use can aid conservation, the stakes are too high to not invest in a technology solution that delivers immediate water savings and a long-term solution to water shortages.

Smart water networks

Water plays a key role in everyday life — from drinking and hygiene to agriculture, landscape, tourism and more. Smart water networks, an integrated set of products, solutions and systems for public service providers, are proven technology that increases water efficiency, ultimately saving water and minimising the negative implications of drought on individuals and industry.

Overall leakage in Australia is up to an average rate of 18%, due in part to an ageing infrastructure, and Australian water utilities currently spend around $1.4 billion per year on reactive repairs and maintenance, including the consequence cost of social and economic impact.

A shocking one-third of global utilities lose more than 40% of treated water due to leaks. By implementing smart water networks, public service providers could account for every drop of water that passes through their system.

Agriculture and farming crisis

Farming and agriculture groups remain in crisis talks with state and federal government on the drought issue. Some farmers in the Victorian Wimmera district, in the state’s west, are unable to grow the volume of feed they need and are having to transport water to their property or buy feed to ensure they keep their stock alive.

In Australia, use of recycled water for irrigation accounted for just 1% of total water use, despite a 27% increase to 145,000 ML in 2014 (ABS). Smart water networks and data analytics can better track and monitor this recycled water.

Smart networks can play a major role in improving drought conditions in Australia. However, moving past the barriers to implement this technology will require engagement across a diverse set of stakeholders: public service providers, municipalities, regulators, investors, industry and utility associations, technology providers and academia.

Collectively, industry leaders can address the environmental and financial needs for smart water networks to revolutionise the water distribution infrastructure of the future. We are already delivering these technologies to countries across the globe. We can affect change and reduce water scarcity in Australia if we focus on pairing the right technologies with the right stakeholders.

With such high stakes, there has never been a more crucial time to tap technology for answers.

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