Nearly 40% of executives from water utilities think it is “highly likely” that demand will exceed supply by 2030, underscoring the need for better management through innovations like network sensors and smart meters, according to a new study from software giant Oracle and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Some 45% of the 244 executives surveyed for the report reckoned that wasteful consumer behavior is the main barrier to meeting future demand, with about a third of respondents rating worries over climate change and low tariffs as other significant barriers.
Entitled Water for All?, the report argues that the need to address these challenges is prompting innovation in the water sector, with utilities investing in a range of efficiency-improving technologies, including desalination technology, network sensors and smart meters.
Almost all respondents said they were increasing investments to meet the supply challenges, with more than one in five planning to raise investments by 15% or more within the next three years.
Indeed, the water sector is becoming an increasingly prominent innovator, say report authors, due to implementation technologies such as smart meters. One fifth of water utilities in developed markets, and a third of utilities in emerging markets, now regularly evaluate new technologies.
Even so, more than a third of utilities are seemingly unaware of the innovation options available to them, argues the report, which urges utilities to improve their ability to identify and implement such advances.
“The threat of water scarcity is not an insurmountable challenge, but to overcome it, water utilities will need to make much more productive use of water available and better educate their customers about its value,” said Brian Gardner, a senior editor with the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Fortunately there are innovations in technology and process being implemented in both developing and developed nations to help make this a reality. We need to see water utilities, governments and consumers all contribute more to address these concerns in the coming years.”
The 244 executives surveyed for the report were drawn from 10 countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Russia, Spain, the UK and the USA.