Droughts are inevitable and becoming more frequent as a byproduct of climate change. Recently, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification stated the world is “at a crossroads,” as drought conditions increased by 29% since 2000. It was also reported that over a 20-year period ending in 2017, droughts triggered global economic losses of approximately $124 billion. For this reason, creating drought resilience is essential.
For ASTERRA, an Israeli-based company with a US headquarters in California, droughts and water scarcity are a daily concern. In the article called, “It’s Getting Hotter and Dryer. Here is What Israeli Tech is Doing About It,” we learn that drought in Israel is ever-present due to the native desert environment. The article discusses ASTERRA’s role in managing the challenges associated with drought. “With growing populations and diminishing freshwater supplies, wasted water, and its associated wasted electricity and CO2 production, need better control methods. Around the world, nearly 17 billion gallons of treated drinkable water are lost every day to leaks. This is especially crucial in desert climates as the water they have is already scarce. Water system managers are having a harder time visualizing leaks that are system-wide.”
ASTERRA uses satellite-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology and patented, artificial intelligence-powered algorithms to detect subterranean soil moisture and provide managers with leak monitoring services. This is a proactive method for remediating water leakage, monitoring infrastructure, and mitigating related damage. ASTERRA provides visual and quantitative access to the actual soil moisture as it accumulates below the ground. The satellite’s radar scans large areas and quickly analyzes expansive systems. ASTERRA products are an efficient solution for water conservation.
Countries that historically are desert conditions are not the only ones affected by drought. According to Times of Israel, Italy is facing its worst drought in some 70 years. ASTERRA recently hosted the Israel Water Innovation Technology Summit, welcoming a delegation of 22 Italian water utility companies and three engineering firms to collaborate on solving some of the biggest water challenges ever faced in Italy.
In the United States, droughts are of grave concern. The Texas Water Development Board recently announced that at the end of May, drought conditions covered 78% of the state of Texas, with temperature and precipitation having the greatest impact on water supply and drought. In June, it was reported that the city of Houston had 50 water main breaks which they attributed to the drought and made a plea for water conservation.
Why do many utilities wait until a crisis occurs to take impactful preventative action? There are ways to start conserving water and creating drought resilience through sustainable water programs – before the crisis point.
A cnbc.com article reported that the U.S. west has recently produced the driest two decades, calling it a “megadrought.” California is in its third straight year of drought and sweeping restrictions were enacted. Experts estimate that 42% of the California drought’s severity can be attributed to climate change, while the rest is due to poor processes and human waste. California’s two largest reservoirs are at critically low levels, and the state has experienced its driest January, February, and March to date.
In many cities, households are forbidden from watering their lawns more than once a week. At-home car washes are prohibited. Businesses are limited in the amount of water they can use in their processes. When a drought creates a shortage of water, conservation efforts become the focus.
ASTERRA is an Earth observation and water industry leader that contributes to the path to drought resilience. It reduces the impact of climate change by identifying locations where the water supply is wasted or infrastructure is compromised and requires repair. Using satellites in space, ASTERRA’s patented artificial intelligence-driven technology monitors an entire water distribution system and guides utilities to likely locations of water leaks so those leaks can be resolved faster and more efficiently.
ASTERRA’s innovative systems are assisting customers, including many water program managers, to reach their sustainable development goals and increase positive environmental impacts. They have found 60,000 leaks – at least three times the number of leaks found by traditional acoustic leak detection methods, saving well over 170,000 million gallons of water.