Global challenges series: water scarcity

As Britain comes to the end of its second month of extreme heat, many people in the UK are enjoying another week of basking in the never-ending sunshine.

Worldwide, hot and dry weather is taking a far more serious toll. Deadly wildfires have torn through Greece and Sweden and a record 41.1°C has been recorded in Japan, where after claiming 65 lives, the heatwave has been declared a natural disaster. More than 22,000 people have also been taken to hospital, with heat stroke, nearly half of them elderly.

People walk between water atomizers in Tokyo, Japan as temperatures soar during July

Water scarcity has long been a problem. But climate change, a growing global population and economic growth are putting the natural resource under even more stress. It calls for a rethinking of the way water is used, managed and shared.

Earlier this year, the South African government faced the prospect of its largest city, Cape Town, running out of water and announced “day zero” - when dam levels would be so low that they would turn off the taps and send people to communal water collection points.

At the same time in Tewksbury, Gloucestershire, a river flooded causing a major pipe to burst, leaving 10,000 homes and businesses without water for 48 hours while the water company worked to restore the town’s water supply.

Bottled water is provided to residents and businesses without water in Tewksbury, Gloucestershire, earlier this year

Global demand for drinking water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030

According to the UN, two out of three of us are living in water-stressed regions - and global demand for drinking water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030. But there are ways to mitigate the challenges we face, namely storage infrastructure and leak prevention.

Data collection and predictive analytics will also play a vital role in limiting water loss - data will help build the knowledge base and broaden the understanding of trends, and remote sensor technologies integrated with these analytics will enable water companies to prevent leakages.

Cape Town used a combination of measures - including imposing water restrictions and recycling wastewater - and according to the South African government, this has pushed back their day zero date to 2019.

Finding solutions

It is only better water management that will help deal with increasing water scarcity.

HWM has been providing leak detection technology to help our utility customers limit water loss for many years. We are now working with customers to offer a combination of sensor technology and advanced analytics.

For example, the integration of multiple data sets with HWM’s PermaNET+™, that continually scans a water network for leaks, enables us to identify and prioritise any new leaks and report this information in real-time to network operators.

We can also offer customers water analysis technologies from Palintest and UV technology to disinfect and treat water from Hanovia.

HWM’s PermaNET+™


UV Group