At first, the term sounds like another app for our smart phones that will somehow help us keep hydrated. At second, just another fancy, filtered beverage product that will separate us from too much hard-earned cash. In wastewater treatment and management it means a movement that seeks to incorporate new water technology to aid water utilities in solving today’s water problems through automation, data gathering, and data analysis.

Smart water is a collaborative and integrated method of addressing leak detection, water efficiency, energy efficiency, water quality improvements and a host of other water-related activities. It is a movement that is intended to establish a better and more efficient way to optimize data security and result accuracy that takes into account the factors posed by the challenges and complications of the COVID-19 pandemic — in particular social distancing and new habits related to working remotely. Smart Water is an effort to develop solutions that will supplement the gap between what we already know about water and wastewater treatment systems with new and more advanced methods to help water industry professionals understand current industry processes.

As designed, the benefits of smart water should be felt by everyone. Utilities will be able to better focus operational costs due to optimal system functioning. Innovation will be on the forefront once again for manufacturers as improved confidence leads to improved technologies, driven by accurate and in-depth data. Engineers will be better able to provide solutions to their company partners and, naturally, end users fortunate enough to be using water in a smart water network will receive better information about their usage. It’s also important to note that the Smart Water movement will help address issues of water equity, access and affordability for our more vulnerable communities.  

The technologies that contribute to the Smart Water movement all combine to do one, central thing: analyze big data. Examples include imaging to inspect pipe degradation, leak identification, identifying pipes that need to be replaced, and determining water use metrics, among many others. Smart Water practices allow utilities to collect useful data faster through a practice known as smart water metering which globally incorporates smart water meters that will capture flow data throughout all areas of a distribution system. This opens possibilities of data sharing that can not only pinpoint flow irregularities that could lead to the discovery of a leak, but it does so at a time when sharing is at its most difficult. 

Social distancing and greatly reduced face-to-face interaction due to the coronavirus pandemic has created a crisis inside of crisis management. However, digital data systems enable remote monitoring from virtual control rooms which allows for the analyzing of a vast array of water and wastewater treatment data. These Smart Water technologies almost seem designed for pandemic challenges despite their origins in the more relatively simple goals of convenience and general efficiency. Devices designed to alert experts on a 24-7 basis are now helping to keep workers separated from one another during the ongoing effort to reduce the spread of the disease while keeping critical systems up and running. These shared advantages could signal a significant shift towards integrating digital data for companies who may be short-staffed or suffering from pandemic-hit finances. 

Financing and integrating Smart Water technologies will likely be difficult for a number of water utility companies in the short term, however the investment is likely to have longer-term benefits even after the pandemic has disappeared. Investment in quality is always the best choice, and Graver demonstrates its understanding of that principle through the design and production of high-quality water and wastewater filtration products for a recovering planet.