As cities around the world experience exploding growth, the need to ensure they can expand sustainably, operate efficiently and maintain a high quality of life for residents becomes ever greater.
And water is scarce—1.8 billion people will soon be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. Even in regions where water is plentiful, distribution systems are aging, demand is rising and managing this precious resource is critical.
Our aging water infrastructure systems have long been an out-of-sight, out-of-mind problem. But water loss from failing pipes, faulty metering and theft is no joke and often means lost revenue for utilities and higher rates for consumers.
An estimated 2.1 trillion gallons of treated drinking water leaks from outdated systems in the U.S. alone each year. The American Water Works Association indicated that the 237,600 water line breaks that occur each year cost public water utilities approximately $2.8 billion annually. And worldwide, the World Bank calculated that non-revenue water (NRW) — the cost of water lost to leaks along with standard theft and billing errors — exceeds $14 billion.
While these water loss statistics might dampen our spirits, there is good news: smart technologies are providing a way forward. They offer real solutions that are making dramatic dents in lost water and water system inefficiencies and can help ensure more sustainable water resources for our growing cities.
Best practices include state-of-the-art auditing methods, leak detection monitoring, targeted repairs or upgrades, pressure management and smart metering technologies.
Fixing leaks can also reduce the amount and cost of energy needed for water production and distribution as it takes water to generate energy, and energy to generate water services. Approximately 75 percent of the cost of municipal water processing and distribution is tied to electricity needs.
Reducing leaks can help lower energy demand and cut water production costs, while benefiting consumers. Our cities can no longer afford to lose billions of gallons of treated water to crumbling infrastructure.
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