Advances at the Water-Energy Nexus

May 1, 2019

A surprising 30% of all fresh water pumped globally is wasted due to leaks or non-revenue water today. Not only is the water wasted, so are the over 7,000 GWh used to pump that water. We took a moment to talk with Henrique Costa, Director, Business Development at Itron about technologies that water utilities can leverage to prevent energy and water waste. 

Water Efficiency (WE): What inspired you to work in the water industry? 

Henrique Costa (HC): The main inspiration for working in the water industry is the direct impact on the quality of life of people, communities, and ecosystems. The health and welfare of people are directly impacted when a water solution is deployed. 

WE: What technologies are helping utilities prevent non-revenue water loss today? 

HC: Non-revenue water (NRW) technologies are basically divided between Non-Invasive Technologies (noise sensors and satellite imagery), Invasive Technologies (devices that travel into pipes, usually embedded with acoustic sensors), and Digital Technologies (AI and Deep Learning). These technologies help utilities manage non-revenue water loss in different ways. 

WE: What examples can you share? 

HC: We’ve seen digital technology aid by supplying water 24/7 for a population previously receiving intermittent water service, impacting and bringing benefits to the public health. Some specific results that were achieved in that deployment were: [IMAGE] 

WE: Are there any emerging water technologies that you find exciting? 

HC: The use of Artificial Intelligence (Machine and Deep Learning) applied to water problems through non-invasive technology, called Hydroinformatics, has demonstrated powerful and reliable results. These technologies are highly scalable and less costly than invasive technologies. In the future, we expect to see operations by Computational Robots (self-autonomous systems). 

WE: We often don't think about the energy lost along with water but the two are inextricably linked. What strategies can utilities employ to mitigate energy waste? 

HC:Water and energy are strongly associated at the Water-Energy Nexus. It takes a great amount of energy to deliver water and a great amount of water to generate energy. In some countries, the energy cost for water supply service has government incentives (such as subsidies). Another approach waterutilities take is to negotiate contracts or modify the energy source (e.g., clean energy) to help aid with energy costs. I believe that digital transformation optimizing existing systems will enable the efficient delivery of water and help manage water loss and associated energy costs.
About the Author

Henrique Costa | Director, Business Development at Itron

Henrique Costa is Director, Business Development at Itron.