WATER TECHNOLOGIES

Use Israel tech to manage water better

The Embassy of Israel has an economic mission with a keen focus on the water sector

In Summary

• The Ministry of Water has set a target to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) from 41 -20 per cent by 2030.

• To do this, the ministry has developed standards to be used by service providers under the supervision of Water Services Regulatory Board and the counties.

A women in Muchula spring in Isalua village, Kakamega County fetching water.
A women in Muchula spring in Isalua village, Kakamega County fetching water.
Image: FILE

Since its foundation in 1948, Israel has placed great emphasis on maximising its water supply due to scarcity, famously turning much of its arid land into fertile agricultural soil.

Israel’s founding father David Ben Gurion declared the goal of “making the desert bloom” as one of the central themes of the new nation, believing it could be one of its main contributions to the world. Water technologies have thus been a national priority since then.

The Israeli water industry is today recognised as a global leader. Interestingly, water consumption has remained almost nearly the same since 1964, in spite of a growing population and agriculture. This feat has been achieved through improved efficiency, innovation and a national water plan,.

Water has always been the foundation of life on earth, enabling those civilisations with access to the precious liquid to thrive and grow throughout history. Today, however, Kenya and indeed humanity faces tremendous water challenges.

The rising population in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa, the global warming and the decrease in the supply of drinking water have created massive water shortage, impacting on health, agriculture and the economy. Kenya will need to apply technological innovation to bring real solutions to these challenges with the most common being non-revenue water losses.

Non-revenue water is described as the water loss that cannot be accounted for by water utilities and providers. The estimated total cost of NRW to utilities worldwide stands at $15 billion per year.

Current average water loss in mega-cities in the world accounts for 25 per cent. On average, Kenya’s water utilities lose 41 per cent of water they produce. Most of the losses are through illegal connections, meter tampering, unmetered connections, faulty or inaccurate meters, meter reading errors and data recording errors and corrupt employees and water users.

The Ministry of Water has set a target to reduce NRW loss from 41 -20 per cent by 2030. To do this, the ministry has developed standards to be used by service providers under the supervision of Water Services Regulatory Board and the counties.

However, even with the standards in place, reducing NRW levels will require use of innovative smart water technologies. Israel has considerable technology and expertise in water management, water for agriculture, treatment, desalination, safety and security as well as water IT and communications

For example, it has developed efficiency solutions for municipal water distribution systems that help in NRW management. Such management solutions institutions to produce/purchase less water, save energy, increase capacity and extend the lifespan of existing water infrastructures.

Israeli companies are also developing and implementing advanced IT solutions in the sector to enable utilities to better monitor and control water resources using less manpower and improving scalability.

The technologies are useful in monitoring water distribution networks giving water officers unprecedented control over network events in real time, using state-of- the-art statistical and mathematical algorithms to dramatically impact on savings and help cities prevent losses. The technologies are enhanced further by innovative Smart Metering Technology, which is a progressive technology that acts as a comprehensive remote meter reading solution for walk-by, drive-by and fix base systems.

It requires no physical access or visual inspection of meters and is so responsive that users can be alerted to problems such as water loss the moment they occur. They provide end-to-end water security management system designed to give water security operators an unprecedented level of decision-making confidence and problem solving.

Business-as-usual in the water sector is no longer an option for Kenya as water will be an important investment theme key in attaining Vision 2030 and SDG goals. It is important that national and county governments and other water providers identify ideal technology for water management, smart meters, leaks detection systems and command and control.

The Embassy of Israel has an economic mission with a keen focus on the water sector and ensuring Kenyan entities requiring related  technology are connected to the right companies.

The mission also receives requests from Israel water companies looking for distributors of their technologies and thus encourages Kenyan utilities to engage with the department. It also promotes visits to Israel by Kenyan companies in the water industry, as well as seeks to maintain a constant presence in all relevant water conferences and trade shows in Kenya.

It’s through such engagements with Israel technology that Kenya will eventually excel in water management.

Polycarp Otieno is a trade officer at the Embassy of Israel