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The impact of IoT in wastewater recycling

07 January 2020

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Water is the most important resource on the globe, yet we are facing increasing demands with flooding, drought, contamination and pollution. This is resulting in a shortage of water that we need for survival, food production, energy and supporting socio-economic development. This year the UN have reported that 2.2 billion people are living in countries that are experiencing high levels of water stresses. UNESCO predicts the demand for water is set to grow by 2-3 billion people over the next 40 years so we need to act quickly and implement sustainable solutions. In this blog we discuss how we can recycle and reduce our water usage with the use of smart technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) to treat wastewater and help reduce our increasing demands on the water industry.

Water Crisis

London, Cape Town, Tokyo, São Paulo, Beijing and Jakarta are some of the most densely populated cities in the world. Although they are all very different cities, one thing binds them together: they are within the top 10 cities in the world at highest risk of running out of water[1]

In June 2019, 11 million people in Chennai ran out of clean drinking water which amid the Indian summer heatwave forced some people to drink water from dirty wells[2]. According to US News, water pollution is increasing at an alarming rate across the world, 70% of Indonesia’s and 40% of Beijing’s water is polluted. With so many high risks associated with the lack of clean water and a resource that seems to be running out we must ask what can be done to ensure water is not wasted and polluted water is treated ready for reuse.

As more countries are rapidly using underground sources for water this too is taking its toll in the surrounding environment. Areas of Mexico City are sinking by 40cm per year and the city has sunk by an alarming 10 meters in the past century because the water is being drained from ground sources because there are no longer any above ground water resources[3]. We must ensure the water we do have is of the best quality and that we way in which we obtain it doesn’t damage the environment around us.

Wastewater can be the solution

With IoT and other advances in technology we should be able to meet increasing demand for water but there is no singular panacea to the solution. Each country should look to the World Bank’s report for simple strategic suggestions on gathering information, prevention and providing investment to ensure they do all they can to improve infrastructure to protect their access to and quality of water[4]. Mexico City is losing 40% of its water because of leaks in their pipes and systems[5] and the UN report India has the highest non-revenue water loss at 60%[6]. We must address unsustainable systems now and reduce the impact wasted water has on our environment.

Wastewater is one area we can ensure each water droplet stays in circulation for as long as possible. We must continue changing the paradigm of ‘use and dispose’ where we can and reduce our consumption of water with the paradigm of reuse, recycle and recover water where possible. We are all aware how treated wastewater is sustainable, safe, cost-efficient and a reliable water supply for a variety of purposes. These purposes include industrial uses, construction, safe drinking water and even innovative ideas like making beer.

Using IoT will be critical to the evolution of the wastewater industry and the increasing demands for water in the world. The Environmental Leader recently reported that Asia Pacific is set to be the most rapidly growing market for wastewater treatment and the global market is expected to grow by 4.9% from 2018- 2022 and this growth is exactly what we need to see happening across the globe[7].

The Future of Wastewater

The UN have set goals that by 2020 the amount of untreated wastewater is halved and hazardous materials and chemicals eliminated. As a result, and due to increasing uses of water in agriculture, food production, industrialization and increased population more water and wastewater needs to be treated as does muds, soils and wet sludge to enable additional water recovery and contaminant removal wherever possible. IoT systems are critical to enhance the efficiencies of wastewater equipment solutions and machinery.

As stated in IoT and Hospitality, “The number of connected devices will grow by two billion objects in 2006 to a projected 200 billion by 2020.” With the growing number of connected devices, the wastewater industry is taking advantage of IoT sensors to monitor water levels, chemical leaks, and even regulate water flows[8]. These devices send vital information to central systems, many accessed through tablets and smart phones which allows for real-time monitoring, system control and analysis. Critically, they will alert companies if there are chemical or toxin increases, machinery malfunctions and provide them with data to effectively evolve and continue to develop.

This allows rapid responses which will reduce water losses and labour costs as well as impact the plant’s need for energy and chemicals. IBM’s case study on their joint project with Aquilla showcases the results IoT systems can deliver. By using IoT systems, with analytics and mathematics the goal was to improve water quality. The result was greatly improved water quality, a 13.5% reduction in electricity consumption, 14% reduction in chemical use and a 17% reduction on sludge production[9].  

This allows companies to plan for the operations which can adjust the use of resources to be as efficient as possible and divert as much from landfill as possible. Extracted materials also have added value as by-products can be used for resale or redistribution. IoT technology ensures high quality output is maintained along with added efficiency, cost savings and a reduction in water consumption. One admirable example of this is in the past decade, Las Vegas has instilled the “region’s world-class water reclamation program cutting per capita water usage 37 percent, which saves roughly $5 million annually[10]”.

IoT systems alongside screening and dewatering equipment are key to ensuring water sustainability across the world- they are critical investments for waste water treatment plants worldwide. We urge those in the industry to consider investing in efficient equipment to reduce their costs, make a lasting difference to the global environment and protect our most precious resource.

CDEnviro provide equipment solutions and technology for wastewater treatment plants. For more information on how our solutions can benefit your company please visit or solutions page.

Please join us in the conversation on IoT in the wastewater industry, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

[1] https://www.usnews.com/news/cities/slideshows/10-cities-most-at-risk-of-running-out-of-water last accessed 16/12/2019

[2] https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-06-20/hundreds-of-protesters-arrested-in-india-after-water-runs-dry last accessed 16/12/2019

[3] https://smartwatermagazine.com/news/smart-water-magazine/how-stop-mexico-city-sinking last accessed 16/12/2019

[4] https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/32245/9781464814594.pdf?sequence=8 last accessed 20/12/2019

[5] https://www.usnews.com/news/cities/slideshows/10-cities-most-at-risk-of-running-out-of-water?slide=3last accessed 16/12/2019

[6] https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000367904?posInSet=1&queryId=53662a47-a911-4743-9e7c-e0c8c14deee2 last accessed 20/12/2019

[7] https://www.environmentalleader.com/2019/08/wastewater-treatment-equipment-market-to-jump-nearly-5-through-2022-report/ last accessed 20/12/2019

[8] https://www.iotforall.com/iot-changing-wastewater-management/ last accessed 20/12/2019

[9] https://www.ibm.com/blogs/research/2016/08/used-iot-data-optimize-wastewater-treatment/ last accessed 21/12/2019

[10] https://blog.temboo.com/iot-and-wastewater-treatment-plants/last accessed 20/12/2019

Waste water Internet of Things Water waste water treatment