Water & Wastewater Asia Jul/Aug 2018

WATER & WASTEWATER ASIA July / August 2018 38 / INSIGHT By Steve Leung, Senior Vice President and President, Emerging Markets, Xylem. he water sector is in the midst of a significant industrywide evolution, dr i ven by an urgent need to tackle complex cha l l enges i nc l ud i ng wa t e r scarcity, pollution, extreme weather patterns, and aging infrastructure. Amid growing pressure to do more with less, utilities are expected to invest $14 billion in smart water technologies through 2024 as water managers increasingly recognise the massive potential to leverage data and technology to reduce energy consumption, mitigate unnecessary water losses, and create greater economic and social value. But what does the promise of smart water hold for Asia, specifically? According to a UN report, some 277 million people across Asia lacked access to safe drinking water in 2015 and per capita water resources continue to decline. Between 1990 and 2010, water availability fell by more than 30 per cent in the Solomon Islands, Malaysia, Nepal and Pakistan. The challenge posed by growing popu l a t i on s and economi c development is heightened by the vast needs of industry, with agriculture accounting for more than 90 per cent of the water withdrawn in parts of Central Asia. Faltering infrastructure continues to be a key factor behind the water loss problem. Pipe leaks, sewage and stormwater overflows are putting networks under immense pressure, but limited resources have held many water managers back from making the major system upgrades needed. Chronic water losses have troubled urban Asia’s water management over the decades, with non-revenue water (NRW) estimated to account for more than 40 per cent of supply across South Asia. But addressing this important issue is critical to increase the availability of clean, high quality water for daily consumption in a meaningful and sustainable way. Rising energy costs are also a major concern, with energy for water distribution and treatment alone accounting for more than 11 per cent of operating expenses. Infrastructure challenges including main breaks, sewage overflows and stormwater overflows are leading to chronic water losses and putting water networks across Asia under immense pressure