Smart Water through technology

World Water Day is an international observance, first celebrated on March 22, 1993, after a recommendation was made at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment. Every year since then, World Water Day is considered as an opportunity to learn and spread awareness about issues related to water, considered rightly as the ?elixir of life? on this planet.

Through UN Water- a UN Body which focuses on water and sanitation, the day allows us to be inspired to take collective action to make a difference in our approach towards water resources.

One such is a joint program between Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) and IBM Alberta Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS). The focus of the program is to understand the increasing pressures on watersheds, by using big data analytics. For 10 years, the two organizations have been working to educate people about the growing pressure on the ecological system for water.

Similarly, in the Caribbean, communities have undertaken rain water harvesting as a popular means to access water. They continue to rely on the water stored in tanks, as a more reliable means of water than the pipe. Not sure if you know, but Virgin Islands have regulations requiring rain water harvesting inside their homes. However, in Africa and countries of Asia, water through boring is more popular than harvesting rain water, primarily due to investments required. This is leading to reduction of groundwater as the extraction is way more than recharge through rain. However, IBM has launched a project in Africa to work closely with communities to collect large amounts of disparate data relating to water and analyze why rainwater harvesting is not a popular trend in the continent. Through these data driven insights, one does look forward to revived water management systems in these areas.

Organizations are also pursuing research into how water can be used efficiently to generate power. US Energy Information Administration, 2013 estimates a 56 per cent growth in energy consumption between 2010 and 2040 which implies growing burden on water resources. Here, technology is helping to develop predictive models of ocean salinity variations which help scientists assign water to power generating plants that can process it efficiently.

In some communities such as Iowa in the United States, online water conservation portals are used to analyse water usage of households and compared with similar houses. Here, citizens get an opportunity to cooperate and collaborate to improve their water consumption.

India isn?t too far away in this as well. Take Bangalore (India?s silicon valley) for example. With growing population in the city, Bangalore currently gets a supply of around 1,125 million litres of water per day, mostly from River Cauvery. However, the city is deploying smart ways of managing water, so that through technology, systems can be developed which enable water recycling and controlling consumption, especially through data analysis. In the past, the city has also been able to address the problems of leaks and water theft through the same.

With 90% of water being used in agriculture, it is important that we manage the resource carefully and avoid wastage. Some technologies for water conservation in Agriculture:

– Micro Irrigation: Sprinklers and drip irrigation can save upto 50% of water as canal irrigation does not distribute water in a balanced way and creates problem of water logging as well.

– Laser Leveling: Poor farm design and unevenness of fields leads to about 20-25% of water loss during irrigation. Laser land levelling of the field within certain degree of desired slope using guided laser beam reduces this loss.

– Mobile Technology: ?Nano Ganesh? a system which allows farmers to use their mobile phones to control their irrigation systems remotely thereby reducing wastage of water.

The challenge in front of us is huge, but the answer also lies alongside- in technology. From agriculture to industries, water usage can be monitored and driven effectively by using opportunities provided by technology.