Protecting us from floods and pollution, stormwater infrastructure keeps our communities and economies safe and healthy. However, standing at the forefront of a rapidly-changing world – from unprecedented urban growth to extreme climate events – they have come under increasing strain in recent years.
Given this delicate balance, water utilities cannot afford to overlook the importance of risk and resilience management of stormwater systems. In response, advanced technologies are emerging as powerful allies to help water utilities secure these systems with innovative, data-driven strategies.
Join us as we explore how water utilities can harness digital innovation to proactively address current challenges and fortify the risk and resilience management of stormwater systems, ensuring not just uninterrupted service but a vision for a sustainable water future.
The escalating challenges
Water and wastewater systems are now grappling with many diverse challenges, including:
- Natural Disasters. Climate change has escalated the frequency and severity of major natural disasters like floods and hurricanes. For instance, the U.S. surpassed its 2020 record of 22 separate billion-dollar weather disasters in the first eight months of 2023.
- Cyber Threats. Water utilities worldwide have already been targeted by cyberattacks. According to the FBI and DHS, cybersecurity is the top threat facing U.S. critical infrastructure. In May 2021, hackers accessed a water treatment facility in Florida and came close to poisoning the water supply.
- Aging Infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave United States stormwater infrastructure a “D” grade in 2021, underscoring its expansive networks of aging pipes, treatment plants, and other assets.
- Regulatory Pressures. As climate events increase, so do environmental regulations mandating water utilities meet new and specific standards. To avoid fines and lawsuits, cash-strapped utilities must update their systems and processes.
The role of advanced technologies
Technological innovation offers vital solutions for bolstering the risk and resilience management of stormwater systems, including:
- IoT Sensors. IoT sensors placed in stormwater drains can monitor water levels and quality in real time, enabling swift detection of anomalies and helping manage flood control.
- AI and Machine Learning. By analyzing historical and real-time data, AI and machine learning can predict pipe bursts or equipment failures. These technologies help in predictive maintenance, spurring utilities to proactively extend the life of assets.
- Cybersecurity Measures. With the rise in cyber threats, robust cybersecurity mechanisms like encryption, multi-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring protect water treatment systems.
- GIS Mapping. By mapping assets, utilities can more efficiently allocate resources and plan maintenance schedules. For instance, GIS is the backbone of Philadelphia’s green infrastructure system, designed to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality.
Behind these technologies, how we leverage the power of data can reshape risk and resilience management of stormwater systems.
This is more than just collecting data for the sake of data. Beyond just monitoring, data helps us predict, plan, and optimize. For example, Singapore revolutionized its vast drainage system on a massive scale with a comprehensive data-driven strategy. By implementing a real-time digital monitoring system, they were able to minimize flooding risks and streamline maintenance.
More than a fast solution, a data-centric approach is invaluable for long-term planning. Data-driven strategies allow utilities to predict emerging and recurring challenges, assess potential impacts, and prepare the best responses. In other words, building better risk and resilience management is at the very heart of utility operations.
With data fueling AI, algorithms can predict potential blockages or overflows before they pose substantial threats to water supplies. A data-driven strategy means more than just averting disaster. Being proactive inevitably also translates to improved cost-effectiveness, service quality, and public trust.
Ensuring uninterrupted service
Stormwater system continuity is critical for public, environmental, and economic safety, and stability. And with leading GIS-enabled data collection platforms, utilities elevate their ability to respond effectively during crises and ensure uninterrupted service. For one, real-time data lets utilities map out potential flood zones, quickly mobilize emergency resources, and keep services running. These platforms can also dispatch timely alerts to all stakeholders, quickly communicating emerging problems for faster resolution.
Data-collection platforms also strengthen redundancy. When real-time data flows freely between backup systems, IoT sensors, and data-collection platforms, even if one segment of the system faces issues, the larger system remains operational, minimizing disruptions. Utilities can also share this data through dashboards and alerts, updating residents on weather events, maintenance schedules, or water quality. Informed residents can also collaborate on proactive solutions that help utilities reduce risk and ensure continually reliable service.
Toward a sustainable water future
Fueled by powerful integration and analytics, data collection platforms are foundational for a sustainable water future that promises quality, availability, and affordability for generations. Utilities can leverage data-collection platforms to achieve multiple goals. These platforms easily integrate various environmental sustainability metrics, such as erosion, runoff, and water quality. As a result, utilities can effectively measure both the efficiency and ecological impact of their operations. Take Melbourne Water, for example, which developed a 50-year data-driven urban water strategy that balances urbanization and ecological sustainability.
Like Melbourne Water, utilities can provide lawmakers with empirical evidence to draft sustainable policies. Collaborative and informed policymaking based on data lays the groundwork for a resilient stormwater system and a sustainable water future.
A blueprint for data-driven sustainability
As pressures mount and challenges increase for utilities, the risk and resilience management of stormwater systems hinge on better leveraging advanced technologies.
Building on the robust capabilities of GIS-first data collection platforms like Fulcrum, utilities equip themselves to tackle current challenges and prepare for a future where water systems are not just less prone to risk but more efficient, resilient, and sustainable.
Ready to elevate your stormwater system’s risk and resilience management? Don’t navigate these complex challenges alone. Schedule a demo with our experts today to see firsthand how Fulcrum’s data-driven solutions can fortify your utility operations for a more sustainable future.