Technology to help boost water security
Intelligent systems that utilise the power of the Internet of Things (IoT), Big data, and real time analytics will be a critical component in combatting issues that are related to water scarcity, experts at the 20th Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (Wetex 2018) said.
Held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and inaugurated by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and President of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the event drew the participation of over 70 local and international companies.
"Water waste is one of the key segments that we are focusing on right now, especially in this part of the world," said Hanan Darwish, cluster president - Gulf and Pakistan at Schneider Electric.
"Water is an essential part of our lives and this is why we have to be very careful about how we are using it. We have been working very closely with the Dubai Municipality to help them monitor everything from the drainage, sewage, and leakage of water systems through our command and control centre. Essentially, we are helping them better manage their systems so that they reduce water wastage and become more efficient."
A lot of times, she said, many companies and residents don't even realise how much water is being wasted or what they can do to stop it. "It is only when you see the water bills at the end of the month that you begin to wonder. This is why data and data analytics are a key part of our strategy. When you have data and begin to understand what it is telling you, only then can you think about what practices you can put into place to reduce the wastage."
She further noted that there has been a growing interest from companies across the UAE to have intelligent systems in place to conserve water, which is in line with the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036. Launched in September 2017 by the Ministry of Energy & Industry, the strategy aims to ensure sustainable access to water during both normal and emergency conditions, in line with local regulations and standards set by the World Health Organisation.
The overall objectives of the strategy are to reduce total demand for water resources by 21 per cent, increase the water productivity index to $110 per cubic meter, reduce the water scarcity index by three degrees, increase the reuse of treated water to 95 per cent and increase national water storage capacity up to two days. It also aims to reduce average consumption per capita by half, as well as focus on sustainable practices.
Tom Mills, VP of Sales APAC and Mena regions at Sensus, noted that water stress, and an increasing demand for potable water, is a particularly pressing issue for the Middle East region. The UAE is among the world's 10 most arid states, which consumes nearly 15 per cent of the world's desalinated water. The situation is not much different across the rest of the Middle East, with nearly 85 per cent of the water used for agriculture adding to the water crisis.
"Water scarcity is an issue that is being faced across the world," Mills said. "We provide solutions that allow utilities to better understand the performance of their water network and what is going to happen. First of all, they have to improve the performance of their current network. Secondly, they have to have the data that will allow them to be prepared when something will happen, and this reduces the risk of major failures."
Globally, utilities spend nearly $184 billion annually for the supply of clean water, $14 billion of which is spent on the energy costs of pumping water. These figures do not include the revenue lost from burst pipes and leakages. Hence, for the region, it is imperative to shift to a digital model, led by experts, to address its water challenges.
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