Patching Water Infrastructure Where it Leaks Money

Water infrastructure inspection and repair is a growing $20 billion market, but still needs better technology to make maintenance affordable, says Lux Research

BOSTON--()--The market for technologies that help inspect and repair the world’s aging water infrastructure is approaching $20 billion worldwide and is growing at a healthy 10%. Currently, that growth is mostly paid for by spiraling consumer water bills rather than government grants, leading municipalities to desperately seek more cost-effective new ways of maintaining their pipe networks. In its latest report, Lux Research argues that the most lucrative solutions will arise from technologies that can monitor the entire water infrastructure and allow owners to target sections in most urgent need of repair.

Titled “Plugging the Leaks: The Business of Water Infrastructure Repair,” the report provides a reality check on the challenges and opportunities surrounding the inspection and repair of aging water infrastructures. Utilities, investors and technology developers will find strategic guidance on how to identify technologies best equipped to isolate, prioritize, and target critical repairs.

“Outdated water infrastructure and record high government deficits are both fueling demand for low-cost inspection and repair solutions – namely software and sensor technologies that can provide a snapshot of a utility’s entire infrastructure,” said Brent Giles, a Lux Research Senior Analyst and the report’s lead author. “Without this holistic view, utilities cannot prioritize the most critical repairs – and may end up throwing money down the drain to address the leaks that are visible today rather than the ones that could prove catastrophic tomorrow.”

To conduct its analysis, Lux Research surveyed the field of technology providers and broke it into two segments: Pipe repair technologies and monitoring technologies. It developed scores for the maturity and technical value of individual companies, and used these scores to position each company in one out of four quadrants: “current winners” that are high on both value and maturity, “future winners” with high value but low maturity, “incumbents” with high maturity but low value, and “long-shot” technologies that do poorly on both axes. Among its key findings:

  • Pipe repair technologies lack innovation. The landscape of pipe repair technologies indicates an industry facing stagnation. While the quadrants for “current winners” and “incumbents” are well-occupied, few companies land in the quadrants for “future winners,” or even “long shots.” Pipe monitoring and characterization benefit from advances in information technologies, but pipe rehabilitation methods remain a trailing technology.
  • Smart meters currently win the monitoring category, but for how long? Smart water meters have yet to see major market penetration, but the presence of massive companies in the market with little technological differentiation limits opportunities in the market. “Future winners” in the drinking water industry will facilitate smart-meter sales and ride the coattails of their success, including algorithmic event predictors, leak locators, and other methods for automating collection and application of smart meter data.
  • The big move is toward smart infrastructure monitoring options. Possessing a clear and comprehensive picture of the entire infrastructure could save a water company tens or hundreds of thousands in repairs each year. The first part of that goal is now widespread: Survey-quality GPS, sometimes combined with electromagnetic or ground-penetrating radar, can map pipe infrastructure, creating three-dimensional maps that show exactly where the pipe is, correcting the widespread errors in existing maps, and at least ensuring that repair crews will find a pipe when they dig.

“Plugging the Leaks: The Business of Water Infrastructure Repair,” is part of the Lux Water Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the bi-weekly Lux Research Water Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

About Lux Research

Lux Research provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on us to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through our unique research approach focused on primary research and our extensive global network, we deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to our clients. Visit for more information.


Lux Research, Inc.
Carole Jacques, 617-502-5314

Release Summary

Reality check on the challenges and opportunities surrounding the inspection and repair of aging water infrastructures. Lux Research argues that the best solutions will arise from technologies.


Lux Research, Inc.
Carole Jacques, 617-502-5314