Currently, approximately 4 billion people live in water scarce and stressed regions with nearly 1 billion people without access to safe drinking water and almost 1 million deaths per year from water borne diseases.

The World Economic Forum projects that by 2030, the world will face a 40 percent “Gap” between water supply and demand under business as usual practices.

Integrating digital technologies, such as using sensors for remote monitoring and machine learning and other AI for insights and operational efficiency, provide a means to control and operate smaller decentralized water units remotely, thus breaking down the economies of scale argument for centralized water treatment.

There could also be opportunity for a “Blended utility” or “Hybrid utility.” Imagine water and wastewater utilities that integrate conventional water supply with off-grid air moisture capture technologies and localized water treatment systems.

In a world of increased demand for water and the increasing impact of climate change, this may be the strategy for a resilient and sustainable water utility.

Off-grid, localized technologies, integrated with digital solutions for monitoring, control, and optimization, for both water supply and treatment will likely continue to scale to address water scarcity and poor water quality challenges.

Imagine a blended or hybrid utility that incorporates the positive attributes of centralized water systems with those of off-grid and localized systems “Powered” with digital solutions to optimize performance with improved customer engagement.