Why Water Utilities Are Becoming Connected

By Amanda Kowalik   July 21, 2016

We may not think about it every time we turn the faucet on, but it takes a very complex infrastructure to provide safe drinking water to a population.

Water utilities not only have to source, filter and supply fresh water – they’re also tasked with managing storm and wastewater, all while adhering to strict EPA quality measures and meeting the demands of a growing population. Globally, water consumption increased sixfold in the 20th century, more than double the rate of population growth.

Faced with these challenges, it’s imperative for water utilities to operate as efficiently as possible, with a watchful eye on maintaining quality. But according to recent reports, the U.S. water infrastructure – one of the safest in the world – is still in dire need of improvement.

While these reports have highlighted several areas of concern, the one I’d like to focus on is a widespread lack of data reporting. It’s difficult for utilities to maintain and improve the quality of their water without measurement, and yet they often don’t have the tools and connectivity needed to make an accurate assessment. This presents a serious obstacle in delivering safe water to the communities who depend on them.

I believe wireless communications can offer significant improvements to help utilities overcome this challenge. Providing safe water requires connecting the right people, places and things with security and confidence. We can achieve this by unifying entire water ecosystems with data, voice and video connectivity in a digital water meter network.

How might this work? Wireless backhaul links would join metropolitan lift stations to treatment facilities and all the way back to remote reservoirs. In real-time, SCADA sensors would monitor pressure, flow rates, and water levels to identify leaks and unexpected inflows. Employees, even those who are remote, could easily track water usage and manage centralized valve and pump controls remotely.

This valuable wireless communications infrastructure can enable water utilities to see the bigger picture, optimize quality and efficiency for normal operations, and respond much more quickly in times of crisis.

At Cambium Networks, we’ve already begun deploying these solutions to help water utilities in the U.S. and around the world improve efficiency and quality across the communities they serve. To learn more about how their transformative experiences with wireless communications, check out their stories here