The call for bet­ter wa­ter man­age­ment: In­vest­ing in the wa­ter of the future

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - WATER MANAGEMENT - By Richard Coul­ter, Wa­ter & Waste Wa­ter Sec­tor Man­ager at Sch­nei­der Elec­tric.

In New Zealand, we are blessed with ac­cess to fresh wa­ter. In fact, each year per per­son, we have ac­cess to ap­prox­i­mately 145 mil­lion litres; six times as much as Aus­tralians, 16 times as much as the US, and 70 times as much as China or the UK1.

Yet de­spite our abun­dant sup­ply as a na­tion, we still face wa­ter man­age­ment is­sues. Land use and pop­u­la­tion growth have placed in­creas­ing pres­sure on wa­ter­ways. This is es­pe­cially ev­i­dent with farm­ing, be­cause agri­cul­tural land sur­rounds 46 per­cent of New Zealand’s rivers. Agri­cul­ture is the largest seg­ment of the wa­ter util­i­ties in­dus­try in New Zealand, ac­count­ing for more than 70 per­cent of the in­dus­try’s to­tal value.

Pop­u­la­tion growth has also in­creased pres­sure on ur­ban sew­er­age, wa­ter treat­ment plants and ag­ing piped dis­tri­bu­tion net­works. There is also an ever-in­creas­ing level of pol­lu­tants from do­mes­tic and com­mer­cial roofs and roads run-off en­ter­ing our rivers and streams. Over­all, we need to man­age our wa­ter care­fully be­cause in some places we are al­ready ap­proach­ing or ex­ceed­ing lim­its to the amount of wa­ter we can sus­tain­ably use, and in some catch­ments, es­pe­cially those with in­ten­sive land use, wa­ter qual­ity is de­clin­ing.

These fac­tors are in­flu­enced by the struc­ture of wa­ter and waste wa­ter man­age­ment across the coun­try. This is pri­mar­ily due to our na­tion’s reg­u­la­tory frame­work, which prior to November 2010 the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act (2002) stip­u­lated that a coun­cil could not en­ter into a joint ar­range­ment with an or­gan­i­sa­tion for the pur­pose of pro­vid­ing wa­ter ser­vices for a term longer than 15 years; a pe­riod too short for in­vest­ment in long-term in­fra­struc­ture as­sets.

In­vest­ment can be limited in some ar­eas, as there is min­i­mal pri­vate sec­tor in­volve­ment aside from as­set construction and main­te­nance. This means, de­spite lo­cal gov­ern­ment hav­ing a strong un­der­stand­ing of the re­quire­ments of an area, they do not al­ways have the funds to sup­port ex­e­cu­tion.

Even though the Act has re­cently been amended to a limit of 35 years, cur­rent wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion reg­u­la­tory frame­works still strug­gle to pro­vide in­cen­tives for long term in­vestors in in­fra­struc­ture. As a re­sult, con­sul­tancy body Deloitte has fore­casted New Zealand will face fi­nan­cial prob­lems in re­la­tion to wa­ter man­age­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, Long-Term Coun­cil Com­mu­nity Plans (LTCCP) com­pleted, have iden­ti­fied a deficit of US$20.5 bil­lion in long-term wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture spending over the next 10 years - US$8.5 bil­lion of cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture2.

New Zealand would strongly ben­e­fit from a co­or­di­nated na­tional frame­work or na­tional min­istry re­spon­si­ble for wa­ter and wa­ter pro­vi­sions. Cur­rently, there are 68 lo­cal gov­ern­ment body wa­ter stan­dards. As there is not one lead agency for wa­ter, stan­dards cov­er­ing a range of per­for­mance di­men­sions have been de­vel­oped, each with their own unique fo­cus. This means there is a real op­por­tu­nity to im­prove ef­fi­ciency and drive out cost by col­lab­o­ra­tion across the NZ Wa­ter seg­ment.

Per­for­mance im­prove­ments can save mil­lions in en­ergy costs and un­told litres of wa­ter through mea­sures like: • Pump ef­fi­ciency and drift de­tec­tion. • Co­gen­er­a­tion. • Dy­namic pump sta­tion op­ti­miza­tion. • Tech­nol­ogy process im­prove­ments. • Ad­vanced me­ter­ing in­fra­struc­ture. • Leak­age de­tec­tion.

How­ever, these items re­quire ini­tial in­vest­ment and con­stant main­te­nance. Na­tion­ally, as much as one quar­ter of as­sets in the wa­ter, waste­water and stormwa­ter sec­tors are more than 50 years old3.

Fi­nan­cial and reg­u­la­tory in­vest­ment in a na­tional wa­ter man­age­ment struc­ture would reap ben­e­fits in the long term. Wa­ter and waste­water util­ity up­grades yield more en­ergy — and wa­ter — sav­ings than any other sin­gle in­vest­ment.

In fact, well-main­tained wa­ter and waste­water in­fra­struc­ture is crit­i­cal to a util­ity’s abil­ity to prop­erly and ef­fi­ciently man­age wa­ter use, wa­ter qual­ity, and wa­ter re­sources. But the ac­tive main­te­nance of in­fra­struc­ture re­quires sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal in­vest­ment.

Na­tional fund­ing and wa­ter man­age­ment will re­sult in much needed im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing:

• More col­lab­o­ra­tion – Through the shared re­sources and IP of key stake­hold­ers at lo­cal and na­tional gov­ern­ment, sys­tem in­te­gra­tors and wa­ter en­gi­neers. • Bet­ter use of an­a­lyt­ics – Build­ing a na­tional an­a­lyt­ics sys­tem, which is cus­tomised specif­i­cally for the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment pro­vides com­plete flex­i­bil­ity on how to de­sign and de­ploy the servers, soft­ware and tools to de­liver the an­a­lyt­ics. • Use of soft­ware as a ser­vice – Cloud-based soft­ware as a ser­vice (SaaS) is a cost-ef­fec­tive way to cus­tomise a so­lu­tion. With this type of sys­tem, data is au­to­mat­i­cally pulled from wa­ter sys­tems and an­a­lysed in a vir­tual cloud en­vi­ron­ment. The down­side is that SaaS so­lu­tions re­quire re­sources to man­age, in­ter­pret, an­a­lyse and act on the data. An­other op­tion is Man­aged soft­ware as a ser­vice (MSaaS) which com­bines the SaaS an­a­lyt­ics so­lu­tion with the over­sight of remote engi­neer­ing ex­perts. With the best of both worlds, MSaaS en­ables you to pri­ori­tise based on fi­nan­cial and per­for­mance goals at the same time so that the team can fo­cus on what’s im­por­tant to businesses and con­sumers.

• Greater in­te­gra­tion – By ef­fec­tively in­te­grat­ing big data with tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions, the wa­ter in­dus­try can op­ti­mise all as­pects of its sys­tems. Not only does the use of data help or­gan­i­sa­tions un­der­stand their cus­tomers but it can also help op­ti­mise ef­fi­cien­cies, im­prove longevity of as­sets and pre­dict future trends. • New tech­nolo­gies – Em­brac­ing new tech­nolo­gies, like Low Pow­ered Wide Area Net­works IoT, will en­able SMART De­vices to com­mu­ni­cate di­rectly with SCADA Sys­tems through the in­ter­net, dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing time to de­ploy and en­able very low cap­i­tal in­vest­ment to en­try. This will drive in­for­ma­tion based de­ci­sion mak­ing at all lev­els in an or­gan­i­sa­tion. • SMART as­set man­age­ment – Trans­par­ent data flow from SCADA, GIS and other soft­ware sys­tems, such as mod­el­ling data into SMART as­set man­age­ment sys­tems. This will en­able pre­dic­tive preven­tive main­te­nance to oc­cur, the sys­tem­atic in­spec­tion and de­tec­tion of po­ten­tial fail­ures be­fore they oc­cur, help pro­tect peo­ple and equip­ment, max­imise equip­ment’s up­time and en­hance en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. • Au­toma­tion for Agri­cul­ture – Lev­er­ag­ing the learn­ings of in­dus­trial SCADA and Au­toma­tion, then tak­ing this on farm is make NZ farm­ing one of the most ad­vanced in the world. Au­toma­tion of ir­ri­ga­tion and pump­ing sys­tems with Cloud Based SCADA, to­gether with the in­te­gra­tion of pre­dic­tive Weather fore­cast­ing sys­tems com­bined with real time soil moister and evap­o­tran­spi­ra­tion is mak­ing huge gains in wa­ter ef­fi­ciency. The use of Vari­able Rate Ir­ri­ga­tion and the use of GPS lo­ca­tion track­ing and mon­i­tor­ing for proof of place­ment with the ap­pli­ca­tion of nu­tri­ents to land has al­ready made sig­ni­fi­cate ad­vance­ment in re­duc­ing risk of farm run off. As a na­tion, we have a huge op­por­tu­nity to in­vest in the future of our wa­ter through peo­ple, pro­cesses and tech­nol­ogy. With the chal­lenge of a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and ag­ing wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture, it’s more im­por­tant now, than ever, that we work to­gether to en­sure ad­e­quate ac­cess to fresh wa­ter for the eco­nomic growth of our in­dus­tries and the well-being of our cit­i­zens. 1 http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/de­fault/files/ me­dia/Fresh%20wa­ter/next- steps-for­fresh­wa­ter.pdf 2 https://www2.deloitte.com/con­tent/dam/ Deloitte/global/Doc­u­ments/En­ergy-andRe­sources/gx-er- wa­ter­coun­trypro­files.pdf 3 http://www.lgnz.co.nz/as­sets/Pub­li­ca­tions/ LGNZ-3-Wa­ters-Is­sues- Paper.pdf

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