From keeping track of the evolving PFAS narrative, to driving increased digital inclusivity and CSO monitoring to accelerate remediation works – 2024 looks set to be another eventful year in water. We asked several experts for their predictions.
An eventful year ahead
What could 2024 hold for the water sector?
One thing is for certain in water: the predictable has become the unpredictable. Mega challenges continue for water companies: associated impacts from climate change, rising energy costs, contaminants of emerging concern, ageing and soon-to-be-retired workforces and more.
One year closer to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target stipulating that everyone has access to water and sanitation services by 2030, the clock is ticking on the need to modernise ageing infrastructure and provide future-fit services.
To get better reading of which challenges, and potential opportunities, are in the store for the water sector this year, Aquatech Online reached out to several thought leaders asking them for their 2024 predictions.
What would you add?
Keeping pace with the evolving PFAS narrative
Reese Tisdale, president & CEO, Bluefield Research
The PFAS landscape is undergoing transformative changes globally, driven by heightened health concerns and significant policy shifts. The EPA's 'PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021–2024' has ignited a wave of efforts, both in the US and internationally, to combat the widespread contamination of water supplies with these persistent substances.
In 2024, PFAS solutions providers are poised for substantial growth, buoyed by strengthened policy frameworks, legal clarity, and a deeper understanding of the challenges at hand. Despite potential pitfalls, the market trajectory for remediating PFAS is more promising than ever.
Bluefield Research's revised forecast reveals a surge in spending by drinking water utilities, reaching nearly US$13.5 billion between 2023 and 2030. This uptick is fueled by the EPA's ambitious proposed Maximum Contaminant Limits (MCLs) and landmark manufacturer settlements, such as 3M's US$12.5 billion pact, adhering to the polluter-pays mantra.
Globally, PFAS dynamics are not confined to the US, with notable shifts in Europe and Australia. Europe is building momentum toward stringent regulations, mirroring the urgency seen in the US, while Australia is reassessing standards in response to local incidents and global awareness.
As we look to 2024, key focal points include the legal implications of CERCLA for water utilities, the influx of federal funding, and the pace of international alignment with US efforts. Technology and solutions providers stand ready for the dynamic journey ahead, as the PFAS narrative evolves towards safeguarding public health and the environment on a global scale.
Seeing more inclusivity in digital technology adoption
Shirley Ben-Dak, senior advisor, SWAN
In 2024, I predict that progress in operationalising digital innovations will ultimately lie within collaborative innovation fueled by interoperability. With an emphasis on APIs that enable the supply chain to work more effectively together (from co-marketing efforts to procurement, onboarding, training and so forth), we are likely to see a rise in value-add technologies.
These will be able to work more in sync to help uncover expanded data capabilities, reduce costs, streamline often siloed technology implementation processes, and mitigate risks commonly associated with digital innovation adoption across the water utility sector.
This represents a fundamental shift (in both mindset and general transactional approaches) in how the water sector has been pitched and sold. It’s not only refreshing but truly necessary if we aim to be more inclusive in terms of digital technology adoption. I also believe this will better equip utilities to view these impressive digital solutions as concerted investments rather than individual project costs, whether CAPEX or OPEX related.