Water conservation has become more and more vital for many American cities. Increased populations put strain on aquifers. Many parts of the West and Southwest are hit by frequent droughts. Sometimes this forces cities to resort to limitations on water use. However, there are better options, including utility smart metering.
Why Is Water Conservation Important?
As already mentioned, population growth can put strain on a city’s water supply. Other reasons why water conservation is important include:
- Drought. Some places are prone to drought. Climate change has resulted in more frequent drought conditions.
- Water scarcity. This can disrupt agricultural, industrial, and energy production, causing ongoing issues and affecting the overall economy.
- Energy use. Moving water uses energy, so moving less water results in less energy.
- Water scarcity reduces the overall quality of water. Resorting to desalination has its own issues, including poor water quality, and high energy use.
While agricultural use is the heaviest, careful use of water in cities can really help with water scarcity issues.
How Can Cities Conserve Water?
So, what can cities do to reduce water use? Restricting residential use and landscaping is only part of the picture. Here are some things cities can do:
- Plant drought-resistant plants and landscaping in public parks and along rights-of-way. Native vegetation tends to handle native conditions better. Avoid planting “thirsty” decorative plants.
- Install high-efficiency toilets and low use fixtures in public buildings. Some cities also have programs to incentivize toilet replacement by individuals and businesses.
- Incentivize drought-resistant landscaping for individuals and businesses. In drought-prone areas, incentives to remove lawns and replace them with more appropriate vegetation can go a long way.
- Repair and replace aging infrastructure to reduce the number of leaks.
- Use smart water management to manage water networks in a much more efficient way. The use of the Internet of Things to assist in water conservation is growing rapidly.
How Smart Water Management Helps
Smart water management involves varied systems that hook together to help keep the entire system smart. Some of these can be installed and used by end users, others are more integral to the grid. Some examples include:
- Smart rainwater harvesting. Harvesting rainwater from surface runoff (such as parking lots) and roofs has been around for a while. Many people harvest rainwater to use to water plants, in fish tanks, etc. However, smart rainwater harvesting allows for this harvested water to be used more widely. Systems can measure the amount of water in tanks to ensure that they don’t overflow. Potentially, it can allow for rainwater harvesting for potable water, with systems monitoring the quality. More likely, though, it will help with rainwater harvesting for uses such as landscaping.
- Smart sprinkler systems. Smart sprinkler controllers sense weather conditions and water plants only as much as is needed for the specific situations. This prevents automated sprinkler systems from turning on during a rainstorm (not only wasting water but potentially having a negative impact on plants. In larger areas, controllers can be solar powered.
- Smart meters. Smart meters have a number of advantages, of which the most obvious is that they save the time and energy spent sending somebody out to read meters. The data that comes in from utility smart metering can be analyzed to show patterns of use both temporally and geographically, and this also eliminates estimated billings. Smart meters can also tell residents they have a leak right away so they can get it fixed, saving them money while reducing water waste. Water can also be shut off remotely if needed.
- Water markets. Farmers who use less water can “trade” their water to other farmers, which reduces risk and encourages conservation upstream.
- Leak detection. In addition to smart meters detecting leaks, smart systems can detect leaks, pump failures and pressure issues in real time, saving money and allowing issues to be fixed faster.
Smart water management is an integral part of the development of smart cities. By using the IoT and utility smart metering, cities can save money, conserve water and ensure that everyone has the clean water they need. Check out how Envocore helped Roswell, New Mexico and Houston, Texas solve their water problems. Then contact us to find out how we can help you solve yours.