“Future global conflicts will be fought over water, not oil” or that was the message from energy secretary Ed Davey in March 2012. That water is an increasingly scarce and valuable resource is self evidently the case for dry and drought prone areas of the world. However, with increasing urbanisation, even cities that ‘enjoy’ relatively high annual rainfall are taking measures to mitigate against the near term risk of a shortage of available drinking water. This means society is looking to new sources of raw water and moving water over larger distances from source to use compared to the past.
In abstracting water from new sources, issues of increasing land use and exploitation, climate change and atmospheric pollution all have a potential effect on the raw water quality and treatment requirements to make this portable. Knowledge, through sensing, will be an important element in ensuring that treatment is effective and efficient in terms of additive consumption and additive use. Many of the same drivers and constraints being placed on raw water, also apply to wastewater and the associated treatment, remediation and reuse cycles.
Increased transport of an increasingly scarce resource also demands improved monitoring for leakage detection. Energy efficiency, resource management and network availability requirements are driving the need for remote equipment condition monitoring, diagnostics and prognostics.
The reverse side of climate change is the increasing frequency of flood events. Here, sensing systems can address the early detection and ongoing monitoring of these events to optimise preparation and response. Techniques including point sensors, image analysis and even scraping of social media streams can have an impact.