What Does The Ideal Water System For The 21st Century Look Like?

Water systems around the world are aging fast. Whether the problem stems from insufficient infrastructure caused by urban growth or pipes that simply haven’t been maintained over the years, municipalities are looking at ways to improve their pipes as both a way to conserve water and save money in the long run.  There are a few different piping approaches and technologies today. Here’s an overview of some of the systems cities are trying.

Replacing the 20th century mindset towards water

The 20th century approached the water with a channel system. For instance, every city had a web of storm drains, sewer systems, reservoirs, and other pipes which would attempt to control the flow of water. On a day-to-day basis, this system worked the way that it was supposed to.

the flow of water, high water

The trouble arose when there were heavy rainfalls or storms within the city. The water would gather until it overflowed and would result in serious floods and other kinds of water damage. This would get particularly dangerous at times because all of a sudden there is a mass of water that has collected and cannot be contained. Still, water causes a host of issues, especially when it comes to collecting pollutants that wind up in water sources after the fact.

This has become an even bigger issue over the past couple of decades as cities are facing larger and larger storms than ever before. Surprisingly, urban planners are not all suggesting more complex storm drainage systems as many might expect. Instead, they are suggesting to develop what is considered a more “green infrastructure” approach.

Water System

This is called a “low-impact development.” Rather than channeling water into pipes and storm drains, this system focuses on allowing urban runoff to be naturally absorbed by the earth. This creates less strain on the drainage and sewer systems, while also letting the natural weather cycles still occur. The Dutch have mastered this approach over past centuries and many are looking to them for inspiration.

IoT Systems & Wastage Reduction

Another tool that cities are using is IoT systems. IoT is an abbreviation for “Internet of Things” and refers to devices that can be connected to an online network to inform and communicate with humans. These systems can be especially useful if wastage is a concern. For instance, sensors can be placed in areas where leakage might be a concern and can then alert you when moisture is detected.

Wasted water has always been a big problem in cities across the world and IoT systems could be a powerful tool in reducing water wastage. By letting water systems monitoring technicians see a leaky pipe from a remote distance, millions of gallons of wasted water could be reduced. Indeed, IoT is one of the most exciting and potentially impactful innovations in the field of pipeline leak detection.

Upgrading Old Pipes with New Materials

When it comes to the actual materials used in pipe construction, many are opting for a different approach than the cast iron and other metallic pipes that have dominated infrastructure during the 20th century.

Wooden Pipes

Wooden pipes might sound like a strange idea to anyone who has never heard about them before, but they are actually revolutionizing how we imagine water and pipe systems. Leaks might be the first concern raised about these pipes, but the assembly and the natural properties of wood solve this issue.

The pieces are fitted together like a puzzle. When water is put into the pipe the wood absorbs a bit of it and naturally expands against the reinforcing steel bands. The result is an air-tight and well-sealed pipe. The material is also easier to transport, a renewable resource, and corrosion is not an issue as it is with other materials.

PVC Pipe

PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride, is an extremely popular choice and is fast becoming the most common among pipe systems around the world. It is mainly manufactured with natural gas and salt, making it inexpensive without having any impact on quality. Indeed, it also has a long lifespan, meaning that valuable resources are not wasted on replacements.

PVC Pipe, Water System


We will be seeing big changes in the coming decades in the world of water drain systems. Indeed, the concrete and metal approaches are being replaced with greener technology like floodwater plains & wooden pipes. In addition, technology can help detect issues with pipes easier than ever. In short, the water system of the 21st century will be a part of nature rather than combatting it while using innovative technologies to make monitoring easier than ever before.

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