“Water meets Money” was the subtitle to the recent The Global Water Summit held in Paris. It is the leading water industry conference, where water business leaders, industrial water users, utility managers, water technology providers and investors came together to discuss, create and share ideas that could shape the future for the world’s most essential commodity.
One message was clear throughout the conference: water investment is needed now.
Excitement was evidenced by attendance increasing approximately 10% from the prior year, with one speaker noting that the sector is near an inflection point of investment as the global water crisis is unfolding today as seen in Cape Town and will continue to worsen without action taken now.
Two areas of investment stood out as what we believe to be the best opportunities where water can meet money today:
• The first is the digitalization of the water industry
• The second is the adoption of water reuse
Let’s start with the digitalization of the water industry. A technological revolution is occurring in the water sector that is driving increased use of data. Data capture and analytics are enabling the industry to make more informed and optimized decisions. The impact of digital solutions is substantial, particularly for capital constrained water utilities that currently lose billions of gallons of water around the globe every day. At Tortoise, we believe that by implementing a smart water network, the leading digital solution in the industry, water utilities could benefit as smart water networks improve operational efficiencies and maximize supply through a reduction in water loss.
Let’s zero in on a few key benefits of smart water networks that were highlighted by the conference speakers. These benefits include a 75% reduction in water loss as smart meters identify leaks in real time; 80-90% reduction in capital cost for a project as smart meters identify specific areas of improvement; and ultimately, an improved customer experience and lower tariff increases due to the efficient capital spend. The excitement surrounding the digitalization of the industry is notable as a conference poll indicated that approximately two-thirds of conference attendees believe that the digitalization of the industry is transformational.
Shifting gears, the second major area of investment opportunity is the adoption of water reuse. Whether its industry members or established water utilities, we think the future for re-used water as a source of supply is bright as it is the cheapest alternative to traditional water supply today.
Industry appears particularly interested in water reuse as companies look to implement sustainability programs and secure water supply in an increasingly water scarce environment. In fact, there was more industrial interest this year than previous conferences. The opportunity is not lost on the water sector as almost two-thirds of attendees believe that industrial water is a huge opportunity according to a poll conducted at the conference.
Industry is not alone in adopting water reuse. Utilities are excited about this form of alternative supply as well. At the summit, the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people from Los Angeles to San Diego counties, provided an example of a water utility turning to water reuse. In its long-term plan, this water district plans to increase groundwater recovery and recycling from 7% of water supply in 1990 to 35% by 2040.
With industrial water users and utilities shifting to water reuse, we believe the trend is clear - water reuse will continue to grow.
Let’s leave you with a quote from a utility board member that was shared at the conference. He explained, “Every generation should plan for their water supply being cut in half.
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