Smart water: Indian success story foretells market growth



Quick Take: Market research firms are beginning to record steady growth in the market for smart water meters. We believe the sector -- long poised for rapid expansion -- is finally nearing a tipping point. And we think stories like the one below will be the reason why.

When Itron meters were installed in Mumbai, India's largest city, they cut water losses by an astonishing 50%. That's the kind of savings and rapid payback that can't be ignored. Yes, Mumbai's situation was especially egregious, but world water loss averages 34% worldwide, according to Itron. Even the best systems lose 10% to leaks -- leaks that can be spotted remotely once smart meters are in place. - Jesse Berst


In an interview with Bloomberg, Marcel Regnier, Itron’s chief operating officer for water, said the smart water meters were installed to improve the system that supplies tap water to Mumbai. As it was, he said, the system only managed to provide water to about half the city's 13 million residents for a few hours a day and to the other half not at all.  He indicated about 50% of the city's potable water was lost prior to the smart meter deployment.


The metering helped the Mumbai utility find leaks and discourage waste so more residents could get water.


"The target was, with the same level of resource and the same capital investment, to provide water to a larger portion of the population,” Regnier said.


Itron officials note they've seen similar water savings in Africa.


"If you’re able to meter the product and charge a fair price for it, a very low price but a fair price, it gives the utility enough return on their investment that they can develop more lines and capacity,” Itron CEO Philip Mezey said in the Bloomberg story.

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