Global demand for water is growing at an astonishing rate – possibly 40% higher than current demand – in the next 20 years. That means utilities will need to find the best ways to manage the finite resource they possibly can.

That need translates into a huge jump in smart water meter deployments, according to a report from Pike Research. The report, Smart Water Meters, says we can expect to see a global base of smart water meters using AMI technologies to hit almost 30 million by 2017, an astonishing increase over the 10.3 million in use in 2011. By the end of the forecast period, annual shipments are expected to be 3.3 million, with an annual market value of $476 million.

Smart water meters will be a primary tool or utilities that need to manage water as efficiently as possible, keep costs down and keep it affordable for consumers.

“The demand for more accurate water meter reading continues to grow at a robust rate,” said Neil Strother, a senior analyst for Pike. “Smart water meter deployments are picking up pace in Europe and North America, and we are beginning to see stronger interest in AMI water meters in other regions, as well. With losses from non-revenue water representing $14 billion in missed revenue opportunity each year, according to The World Bank, the economic case for better water metering is compelling.”