How Machine Learning can play a critical role in drought-prone regions

After an exceptionally dry winter, Southern Europe confronts a summer crisis, necessitating crucial innovative water management for a stable water supply. In this context, Emma Weisbord elucidates the critical role that Machine Learning (ML) can play in drought-prone regions.

Drought italy

Author: Emma Weisbord, Partnership Lead, Digital Water, Twinn Aquasuite

Last week, The Guardian highlighted an impending summer crisis in Southern Europe, as a result of an extremely dry winter. Severe drought affects one-fifth of mainland Portugal, with approximately 90% of the country experiencing its impact. Additionally, the recent floods in northern Italy and Spain have been worsened by prolonged periods of drought. As flood and drought cycles intensify, it is essential to find trusted and proven ways to keep your water supply stable and make better-informed decisions about precious water resources.

With climate change causing the aridification of many regions, it is crucial to monitor water demand and to account for changing use patterns. While the Netherlands is not the first country that comes to mind when thinking of drought or water scarcity, parts of the country share Southern Europe's concerns over water stress. In fact, according to Dutch News, "Vitens, which is responsible for providing water to around one third of the population, has warned several times about the shortage of drinking water, particularly in the east of the country." By looking to countries that are already successfully managing water stress, it is possible to adopt solutions that will make a real, sustainable difference.

How Machine Learning helps maintaining high standards of service

Along with the direct impacts of water scarcity, extended droughts also negatively impact energy production and surface water quality. To maintain high standards of service, water utilities need to carefully manage their reserves, production, quality indicators, and reduce their energy use. Machine learning (ML) can play a critical role in drought-prone regions by providing predictive analytics, insights, and real-time monitoring and control to optimise production and distribution of scarce water supplies. Leveraging expertise in the water industry and long-standing partnerships with water service providers like Vitens, Royal HaskoningDHV offers proven digital solutions that help utilities around the world manage risks and make better-informed decisions about valuable water resources.

Understand, predict & prevent

Twinn Aquasuite by Royal HaskoningDHV predicts water demand using machine learning. This helps water utilities ensure sufficient water for all at the best possible quality and pressure, while accounting for local conditions. The software learns local consumption patterns, including during special holidays, and creates predictions of water demand for the next 72hrs. This prediction is used to optimise abstraction, maintain reservoir levels, and stabilise the network to meet demand with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The result is ~20% better water quality, a more stable water network with reduced leakage and bursts, as well as a 10% reduction in energy usage.
Software screen Twinn Aquasuite drought AI Machine Learning

How to better manage scarce resources

Twinn Aquasuite forecasts domestic water demand which can help regions in drought conditions better dynamically manage their scarce resources. Trusted and proven in the water industry, Twinn Aquasuite is used to help overcome challenges posed by climate change, enable better forecasting of drinking water demand, and optimise the production and distribution of critical drinking water resources. 

Is your region facing pressure from changing climate conditions? Reach out to find out how Twinn can help you make better decisions now and in the future.

Since her MSc in Water Science, Policy, and Management, Emma Weisbord has worked with Oxford’s Primary Health Care Department, Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, the International Water Association, and water technology startups. She is actively involved in global networks, has chaired the Smart Water Network Forum (SWAN) Rising Smart Water Professionals Leadership Programme, served on the IWA Emerging Water Leaders Committee, the IWA Strategic Council, and is currently an advisory board member of the Aquatech Innovation Forum, and a member of the SWAN Digital Twin working group. As the Partnership Lead for Twinn’s water market, Emma’s mission is to empower water professionals to connect, collaborate, and innovate to improve safety, access, and affordability of water and sanitation services globally.

Want to learn more  about digital solutions for the water sector? - Contact our Water Technology experts

Want to learn more about digital solutions for the water sector?

Contact our Water Technology experts