Supporting Water Resource Management Through Technology

Oct. 1, 2017
Technology advancements support water resource management initiatives by helping to optimize capital and operational costs and facilitate communication.

Technology advancements support water resource management initiatives by helping to optimize capital and operational costs and facilitate communication. WaterWorld spoke with Ken Adamson, vice president of Bentley’s building, electrical, plant, and structural modeling, to understand the challenges and drivers in the water market and how technology is making an impact.

WATERWORLD: When we talk about water resources, what are some of the key challenges facing the industry today?

KEN ADAMSON: From a broad, global perspective, I see two major challenges. The first is water stress - the stress on our water resources. We have 5 percent of the world’s population in the U.S. but 29 percent of available fresh water. In perspective, Africa has 16 percent of the world’s population but only 10 percent of the water resources. In Asia, 60 percent of the world’s population has 33 percent of water resources. With only 8 percent of fresh water for human consumption, and agriculture and industrial uses, such as in the extraction industries (oil and gas, power, mining), accounting for the other 92 percent, the water stress is magnified.

The second challenge is ecological and environmental. An American Water Works Association (AWWA) survey concluded that 45 percent of U.S. water utilities’ plans do not address impacts from climate change. Outside of the U.S., environmental challenges on the water supply are driven by disease prevention and providing a clean water supply.

WW: What solutions does Bentley offer to meet these challenges?

KA: Due to aging infrastructure issues in the U.S., we have responded to the need for brownfield development - capturing the existing as-is facility to revamp and improve existing assets. Using reality modeling, you can capitalize on what you have.

In China and Singapore, emphasis is on new billion-dollar greenfield projects that must be scaled up quickly to deliver a clean water supply. Bentley helps engineering and contractor teams communicate smoothly to meet these demands.

WW: Are there any recent projects that stand out as exemplary?

KA: The Changi WRP Phase 2 Expansion in Singapore built the second phase of an underground system for collecting and treating wastewater. OpenPlant, AECOsim Building Designer, and ProStructures were used to design the facility, which treats 920 million liters of water daily.

A finalist at our Year in Infrastructure Conference is from Tongzhou, China, where groundwater extraction will be reduced from 75 percent to 25 percent. AECOsim and OpenPlant were used to design the facility.

Additionally, a sewage treatment project that services 20 million people in the Jinshan District of China required extensive coordination across teams and utilized Bentley’s ProjectWise capabilities for project collaboration.

WW: What is an underlying take-away from the trends you’re seeing?

KA: When we talk about infrastructure, we think roads, bridges, or airports, but we rarely think of water treatment. It’s good to remind ourselves of the importance of water as a resource for agricultural and industrial use as well as for drinking water. At Bentley, we try to do our part by providing technology to help advance this vital water infrastructure.

WaterWorld’s full interview with Ken Adamson can be found online at