Why is it Important to Reduce Water Stress?

Each year on World Water Day, the UN strives to outline just how important one of our most precious natural resources is. This year the UN’s campaign is calling for people to share what water means to them.

Why is It Important to Reduce Water Stress?

Image Credit: ABB Measurement & Analytics

Life-giving, thirst-quenching, and cleansing, it holds significant importance to each person on the planet. Careful management of our water supplies can help make sure that there is enough for everyone.

In the developed world, many are fortunate enough to have a liberal supply of fresh drinking water with the turn of a tap. However, the key role water plays and the work that has gone into ensuring an accessible supply can sometimes be taken for granted. 

Recent weather patterns and rainfall are becoming increasingly unpredictable. While two-thirds of the Earth is covered in water, just 3% of that is freshwater and readily available for drinking and for growing food. 

Water Stress 

Conserving the water supply remains highly important, which is highlighted by the significant impact that a dry or wet season can have on agricultural activities. Remarkably, 70% of global water use is reserved for agricultural irrigation. 

The World Resources Institute (WRI) defines water stress as being excessively high where irrigated agriculture, industries and municipalities consume more than 80% of the available supply every year.2

It is reported that of the 17 most water-stressed countries in the world, twelve are in the Middle East and North Africa. Areas of India also experience high levels of water stress. India is taking crucial, much-needed steps to alleviate some of the stress to ensure careful maintenance and management of this life-giving resource.

Measures include placing stringent regulations for conserving and restoring lakes and groundwater sources, as well as the careful management of supply for irrigation purposes. Other countries that also have areas of high-water stress include South Western Australia, South Africa and parts of the United States. 

In managing water resources, there are three crucial elements that municipalities and water authorities can implement: Increasing agricultural efficiency by conducting measured and precise watering for crops, loss prevention across the distribution network and recycling wastewater. 

Managing Supplies 

India has put regulatory management of the water supply in place to meet the various demands of industry, as well as to support a supply for the population. An early example of this is in Surat, the megacity at the center of India’s multi-billion-dollar textile industry. 

To function, the textile industry demands 90 million gallons of water be delivered every day to the 1000 textile mills spread across the city.

To help combat water scarcity and ensure that there is an adequate supply of water to support the industry and residents, the city authorities are using AquaMaster flowmeters to precisely monitor the water consumption of each business.

All the data is collected digitally and transmitted wirelessly to a control center at the city hall. The data will enable Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) to track water usage and improve water management strategies.

Similarly, in meeting the demands of agriculture in Australia, flowmeters are now a standardized item of equipment used across irrigation networks to measure and control the flow of water for crops and livestock effectively.

Flowmeters are employed to allow users to adhere to allocations of water when there is a limited supply, reducing leakage from the distribution network. NMI certification satisfies the authorities, ensuring that regulatory demands of measurement accuracy are adhered to. 

Water Management Made Easy: Tackling Water Challenges with Smart Measurement Solutions

Water management made easy

Video Credit: ABB Measurement & Analytics

Reducing Leakage 

According to World Bank estimates, a whopping 45 million cubic meters of water a day is believed to be lost globally as a result of leakage: a huge quantity that needs to be replaced, treated and pumped to sustain a supply to customers. Therefore, eradicating sources of leakage is crucial.

ABB’s end-to-end digital solutions are assisting Karnataka’s local water authority in rural India to track, quantify and optimize water use. The population of the Koppal district is 1 million and is regularly confronted with water shortages.

The main challenge in Koppal was accurately measuring water flow and integrating digital technology to track water usage and also measure leakage. The ability of ABB’s aquaMaster to detect the tiniest of variations in flow has been key in dealing with the water shortage challenges in the Koppal district. 

Across the Middle East, where water stress is most visible, ABB’s AquaMaster flowmeters have reduced leaks in the distribution network of Riyadh by 40%. This is a staggering achievement considering the sprawl of Riyadh’s city limits stretches over an area five times the size of Paris.

Historically, up to 60% of Riyadh’s water supply was lost through leakage in the network of 6000 miles of pipe supplying its population.

OIML certification ensures that strict water standards are met. When combining this with the low maintenance and reliability of the WaterMaster and AquaMaster flowmeters, ABB has played a key role in facilitating leak detection across the network.

Recycling Wastewater 

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet. Treating and reusing water generates a “new” source of water, says The World Resources Institute (WRI), and may be critical in the attempt to alleviate severe water stress. Besides the water reuse, there are other by-products of recycling wastewater.

Glenelg wastewater treatment plant, located in southwest Adelaide, Australia, provides 3.8 billion liters of reused water for recreation and commercial purposes year after year. To achieve this, the plant uses the most accurate and reliable measurement instruments to ensure that water is safe to be released back into the environment. 

ABB’s AWT440 transmitter and ADS430 dissolved oxygen are in place at the plant and are effectively reducing air consumption while boosting plant efficiency.

Singapore has four main water sources that include reservoirs, imported water from Malaysia, ultra-clean, high-quality reclaimed water (branded NEWater in Singapore) and desalinated water.

ABB has received a commission to develop, engineer, manufacture and install the instrumentation, electrification and water analyzers across the entire Marina East Desalination Plant.

As a dual-mode facility, the plant will have the capacity to treat either fresh or seawater, contingent on wet or dry weather conditions, thus reducing plant energy usage when freshwater is in abundance.

Future Growth 

Digital measurement technology is being used to aid water companies worldwide and help meet the growing demand while dealing with an increasingly unpredictable supply of water. Effective management of the growing demand for water can only be achieved through optimizing the efficiency of water treatment.

Fortunately, a by-product of doing so also minimizes the environmental impact of water treatment and distribution. State-of-the-art digital instruments and advanced analysis techniques allow water utilities to meet the needs and expectations of an ever-growing population.


  1. https://www.oecd.org/agriculture/topics/water-and-agriculture
  2. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/08/17-countries-home-one-quarter-world-population-face-extremely-high-water-stress 

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by ABB Measurement & Analytics.

For more information on this source, please visit ABB Measurement & Analytics.


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