7 trends that will change the water utilities and management sector – Part 1.

The way water utilities and management companies operate currently will change dramatically in the near future. Inefficient reactive process, where problems are fixed afterward or as they are noticed, has come to its end. Water management companies in the future will predict repair needs and anticipate problems, they will run more efficiently, attaining better service levels, and they will operate like any other business.

The road is long, but the pressure to change is much greater. Technology will be an enabler, which will allow water companies to propel themselves from the 1980’s directly to the 2010’s.

In the following two posts, we will present the seven change forces will change the way water companies operate regardless of place or country. The change will be similar to the revolution the TelCo industry underwent in the 1990’s during the digitization period, and the consequences will be as great and as far reaching. Who of us reminisces anymore after a land-line telephone or expensive long-distance calls? It is time for water utilities to evolve and transition into the 21st Century.

1. A generation change in the sector

Water utilities is an industry where people tend to work for many years, often spending their entire working-life in the sector. The work-force is aging and many times using technology in their work is something that they are not very used to. When this generation of workers retires, they will be replaced by a generation of people who are already used to technology in their daily lives. The rejuvenation of the work-force not only will increase the overall attractiveness and interest in the industry, but also boost the use of technology in all utilities operations.

2. Ballooning renewal debt
Many water and sewage grids are nearing the end of their technical lifetime, and in many cases the time has already been surpassed. The financial environment is challenging; water usage is becoming more efficient thus reducing generated income, but at the same time pressure to invest in infrastructure development continues to increase. The need to invest heavily is a result of the need to build new water treatment plants, and the growing renewal debt of aging water grids. This equation means that water utilities companies are simply running out of available financial resources.

3. The consolidation trend
The difference in size between the smallest and the largest water utilities organizations is immense. However, these organizations manage their basic functions and financial models very similarly. The smaller utilities units will face increasingly difficult operating environments due to external factors, spelling economic troubles for them. Inevitably the sector will see mergers, consolidations and many public water utilities organizations will be privatized. The economy of scale applies also to water management. This issue affects specially the Nordic countries, where there are 8000 water utilities, of which 1700 are in Finland.

4. Laws, regulations and monitoring
Water scarcity and poor water quality will increase the need for national and international water regulations in various countries and areas. As water continues to become an increasingly rare resource, its usage will be monitored and controlled even more tightly, e.g. in the EU. Water utilities organizations and water agencies can expect tougher monitoring methods, more reporting, and significant tightening of various water quality related regulations.

Innovesi develops monitoring technologies and services that will help your water utilities or management organization tackle all the above-mentioned issues and all future needs and requirements.