AI in water: 10 ways AI is changing the water industry

Autodesk May 1, 2022 2 min read

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its mark on the water industry, powering intelligent operations using machine learning to optimize resource use and operational budgets for organizations. Here are 10 ways AI is already changing the water industry.

1. AI will drive a decade of technology investment in water and wastewater operations

Water and wastewater operations are investing in artificial intelligence (AI). Market research is forecasting $6.3 Billion of investment in AI solutions by the year 2030. This investment is a part of a growing trend for the water industry to “go digital” with smart infrastructure solutions.

2. AI will deliver significant OPEX savings in water and wastewater operations

When some US utilities are spending over $300 per customer annually on water and wastewater operations, the potential for savings is significant. AI can save 20-30% on operational expenditures (OPEX) by reducing energy costs, optimizing chemical use for treatment, and enabling proactive asset maintenance.

3. AI will predict emergency events and learn from them at an accelerated rate

Water main breaks are costly for utilities in both financial and social capital. AI and machine learning can “fingerprint” the data patterns that indicate a break event may be imminent and learn from these patterns so that alerts become more accurate over time.

A guide to AI in the water and wastewater sector

4. AI will provide sophisticated decisioning intelligence to support operators

Operators no longer need to analyze complex variables for important decision-making by themselves. Whether it’s turning pumps on or off, determining chemical dosages, or deciding when to maintain assets, AI enables “Operator 2.0” with intelligent recommendations and driven by machine learning.

5. AI will optimize energy use for water and wastewater operations

According to the EPA, for many municipal governments, drinking water and wastewater plants are the largest energy consumers, often accounting for 30 to 40 percent of total energy consumed. In fact, drinking water and wastewater systems account for approximately 2 percent of energy use in the United States. AI can optimize pump runtimes so that they are only using energy when they need to. This can be an easy cost-reduction win for early adopters of AI.

6. AI will keep water clean, cost-effectively

Meeting effluent compliance standards is a requirement for many organizations – both public and private. AI learns from the unique characteristics of your site to ensure that effluence standards are met and that compliance fees are avoided.

7. AI will simplify data integrity

An explosion of available data for water operations managers has brought along a challenge of data management. SCADA systems, CMMS, and even social media hold a wealth of knowledge to improve operations. AI can take this heterogeneous data and process it so that it is clean, useful, secure, and drives high-fidelity recommendations.

8. AI will retain institutional knowledge

How do you ensure that a veteran operator’s valuable knowledge is retained after they leave the workforce? AI-powered dashboards will keep institutional knowledge documented and standardized.

9. AI will accelerate the move to value-based asset maintenance

Early adopters of AI are quickly leaving reactive asset maintenance behind. Time-based maintenance is easy to manage but results in unnecessary uptime and deterioration. Let AI tell your team what assets need to be serviced, and when.

10. AI will power truly smart water systems

The journey to AI adoption empowers organizations to pursue data-driven, intelligent management of water systems. The result is resilient, sustainable, and cost-effective water management for years to come.

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