Over the past decades, our planet has witnessed a change in global weather and climate change. This phenomenon is often referred to as global warming, and as a result of global warming and climate change “Polar ice buffers are melting and the sea is rising. In some regions extreme weather events and rainfall are becoming more common while others are experiencing more extreme heat waves and droughts”, and Namibia is no exception. Nevertheless, Information communication technology (ICT) and big data present unique opportunities to transform processes to better utilize and spare scarce resources such as water.
This article present techniques been used to leverage on ICT and real time data generation to save water. Moreover, highlight the importance of smart water metering and why it’s high time for semi-arid countries like Namibia to adopt smart water meters to combat water waste and bring about efficiency in water management.
Though, meteorological services has forecasted good rains this year, major dams are still below 30% capacity. Moreover, water leaks which constitute the majority of our water consumption continue to hike water bills. Hence the need to radical measures to sparingly use the little water we have.
It’s not only about saving water by reducing waste water, but increasing management and operation efficiencies; thus reduce costs and carbon footprint through smart water metering.
As climate change and global warming advances, we’ll face even drier conditions and extremely hot temperatures. The primary strategy, which has been used for years of imposing water restriction and other conservative measure such as cutting off water during certain times of the day, is not enough. Henceforth, the need for utility providers to adopt new techniques to supplement conventional measures.
Unfortunately for semi-arid countries like Namibia, water stress especially in the central and southern parts of the country are bound to become the new normal. Hence utilities provider need to adopt new advanced water planning, and not contingency plans to mitigate the effect of drought. Unlike contingency plans, smart water meters can provide useful real time data, which gives more flexibility to home and business owners to better manage their water consumption. Additionally, if water users are able to monitor their water consumption in real time on a daily basis, they are in a better position to decide how to save water based on their individual situation and budget.
For example, using real time data from smart meters homeowners can see how much water they have used per hour or day, therefore able to reduce their consumptions in order to fit their monthly budgets. Moreover, homeowners can be certain that their monthly water bills are based on real consumptions and not just mere estimates. Using smart water meters it’s easy to detect water leaks by monitoring consumption increases.
Today, water utilities such as municipalities and local authorities are losing significant income due to inaccurate mechanical meters, which tend to under-register water consumptions. Water utilities can rely on smart meters to improve water reading accuracy as well as reduce the cost involved in reading conventional mechanical meters. Moreover, utilities can rely on this real time data provided by smart water meters to provide accurate bills based on real data and not estimates.
Utilities can also use real time data to regulate prices in times when water is scarce, analyses trends to uncover periods of dry spell, thus reserve water through storage and other techniques.
An obstacle for rolling out smart water meters and other technologies to enhance water management is the cost. This is due to many factors, for example water is not being provisioned at its true value so there is often no money to replace the infrastructures. However, over the years the price for smart water meters has drastically reduced, bringing the cost of one smart meter to about N$ 1200 at a wholesale price, making smart meters affordable.
During these tough and dry conditions, we need to invest the little we have to reduce the gallons of water that is being lost through leakages. Thus, ensure that we preserve the little water that we have left and safeguard the diminishing supplies for those who will come after us.
Smart water metering is not a luxury but a basic necessity to save and reserve scarce resources such as water. In conclusion, smart water meters will bring back the water consumption control back into the hands of homeowners.
Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude), MSc. Computer Science & PhD Candidate