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Water Utilities Need to Innovate with the Industry’s Growth Opportunities to Remain Resilient to Challenging Operational Management
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Water utility CAPEX in Asia-Pacific is expected to grow by 9.7% in 2018, but it is the growth of OPEX that is going to place additional strain on these entities. OPEX will grow by 3.2% in 2018, and is expected to increase in 2019.Utility reforms, in one way or another, with available growth opportunities in the water industry, are essential for water utilities to stay ahead in operations and service excellence. Water pollution and scarcity are 2 primary issues of focus for Asian countries. Other challenges faced by water utilities include impacts of climate change on freshwater supply, rising energy costs, and supply and demand management.In addition, policy challenges will remain as the main barrier for advancement of water utilities, especially in developing countries, but technology advancement, rising operations cost, and issues such as non-revenue water are likely to spur favorable and gradual regulatory support from 2023. Singapore’s biggest challenge is to ensure water supply sustainability. The PUB needs to ensure that the country is self-reliant on alternative water sources such as seawater desalination and wastewater reuse. To improve Australia’s water management efficiency, the most important challenge for policymakers is to break institutional barriers from fragmentation and enhance better national collaboration. The primary challenge for policymakers in China is to reduce water pollution with stronger legislation; readiness to adopt innovative methods to improve water use efficiency needs to be encouraged.In light of various external challenges, Asian countries need to better improve water utility performance and efficiency, while reform levels may vary on the development level. Water utilities and water companies holding utility concessions will compete to innovate in technology adoption to gain competitive edge, reduce operations cost, and gain additional credentials for future PPPs and water projects.Countries with developed water infrastructure should adopt decentralized systems to diversity water sources and to reduce carbon footprint. Emerging and poorer economies should adopt decentralization to build a network at the community level to ensure resilience in water supply.The need for better operational excellence in water utilities to improve revenue stream and OPEX will drive changes in the municipal water sector. The nexus of smart infrastructure, smart technology, and smart energy will result in smart water and wastewater networks. Sustainable treatment plant means that water utilities need to adopt energy efficiency measures and energy recovery or generation.
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