Smarter infrastructure, with data at its core, will play a crucial role
in overcoming varied threats to our water supply. From precise reads of
consumption rates and customer engagement to improved leak detection and
climate change planning, a new culture of data science can extend our
supply to drive sustainability and resilience. The accelerating move to
embrace digital water by service providers and industry leaders will
also better inform the asset management and planning programs necessary
to overcome continued funding challenges.
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New Black & Veatch Water Report dives into the current landscape of water (Graphic: Business Wire)
Those are the findings of Black & Veatch’s just-released 2019
Strategic Directions: Water Report. Built on data collected in
the company’s annual survey of water industry leaders in North America,
the report finds that just as manufacturing and industry has embraced
the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect technologies and add value to
our daily lives, data “has woven itself into the central fabric of our
Survey responses clearly reflect data’s role in utility operations, with
more than 90 percent of respondents saying they rely heavily on meter
and billing data, customer information, SCADA systems and operations
data to manage operations. But while enthusiasm over data creation runs
high, just 5 percent of respondents indicated they had implemented a
robust, fully-integrated approach to data management, while nearly 60
percent said their data efforts were getting stronger but weren’t fully
integrated. All too often, data is collected but siloed, missing a key
opportunity to present a holistic and actionable view of critical
“The Internet of Water – through next-generation collection devices and
predictive analytics – has ushered in the ability to funnel disparate
data into a single, meaningful snapshot of the entire water ecosystem,”
said Cindy Wallis-Lage, president of Black & Veatch’s water business.
“This ‘single version of the truth’ allows a user to gain insight on the
connectivity and synergies within a system to drive operational
efficiency, performance predictability, maintenance planning and
optimize workforce needs. Data has the power to guide us to new levels
of reliability and system optimization.”
This year’s report also investigates other issues and trends impacting
the water industry today. Analysis of the nexus of water and “new
energy” explores how water utilities are working to integrate
renewables, both to optimize energy use and lower costs. Resilience is
addressed from the perspective of too much water – as regions within the
U.S. struggle with legacy conveyance strategies, some communities are
turning to transformational water infrastructure while others implement
short-term fixes. The report also explores the problems of too little
water, as arid conditions and frequent drought cycles challenge our
supply and prompt innovation through water reuse, data analytics and
As water utilities focus on improving customer service and meeting
quality and environmental regulatory targets, there is also an emerging
emphasis on asset management, particularly predictive maintenance. The
level of access to once ground-breaking technologies is accelerating as
artificial intelligence, data analytics tools and smart sensors become
less expensive and more widely available, offering water utilities
options as they work to manage aging water infrastructure.
“From inside the fence to behind the meter, digital water is pushing
data’s potential deeper into organizations, influencing planning, asset
management, customer interaction and operations,” said John Chevrette,
president of Black & Veatch management consulting. “As more
organizations incorporate digital strategies into their offerings, the
result promises a water ecosystem that is responsive, secure, resilient
and abundant, helping to end the threat of Day Zero altogether.”
Other key findings include:
Respondents say they’re collecting quality data, with 90 percent of
respondents saying their data is excellent, very good, or good. Ten
percent reported the quality of their data was poor.
Although one-third of respondents schedule preventive maintenance
according to manufacturer recommendations, 30 percent follow the
status quo, reactively fixing or repairing equipment based on usage.
Eighty-six percent of respondents see resilience as a critical
priority. But of that number, only half have developed an approach to
address the issue, while 36 percent have yet to make formal plans for
Catastrophic infrastructure failure tops the list (59 percent) of
resilience concerns, followed by natural or manmade disaster (58
percent), drought (44 percent), climate change (34 percent),
cyber-attack (31 percent) and terrorist attack (8 percent).
While two-thirds of respondents see energy management as very or
extremely important, just less than half have an energy master plan in
place. One-quarter are working to develop an energy master plan, but
the remaining 26 percent have no roadmap toward a plan.
Black & Veatch’s report is based on a survey of 430 participants
across the municipal, utility and technology sectors.
The report includes insights from our software subsidiary, Atonix
- A free copy of the report is available to download at www.bv.com/reports.
About Black & Veatch
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical
human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government
Services. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of
people in over 100 countries through consulting, engineering,
construction, operations and program management. Our revenues in 2018
were US$3.5 billion. Follow us on www.bv.com
and in social media.
About Atonix Digital
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Black & Veatch, Atonix Digital develops and
offers a suite of software powered by the ASSET360 cloud-based analytics
platform. These solutions create a multidimensional view of systems,
infrastructure assets and processes to boost efficiency, increase
accuracy of planning and improve day-to-day decision-making in an
ever-changing landscape. Visit www.atonix.com
for more information.
About the Strategic Directions Reports
Black & Veatch’s high-impact Strategic Directions Report series provides
industry insights and analysis based on market-leading research.
Encompassing four annual reports – Smart Cities & Utilities, Water,
Electric and Natural Gas – the series serves to inform and educate
industry players on key issues, challenges and opportunities. Visit BV.com/reports
to learn more.