Water Contamination Detection and Removal

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Water Contamination Detection and Removal

The global water treatment and water quality testing industries are both projected to experience significant growth over the next 5-7 years. Growth is driven by increasing awareness of the importance of clean water, rising levels of water pollution, water quality legislation and standards enacted by government bodies, and technological innovations that improve water treatment and testing processes. Key players include a combination of large, established, companies and emerging, tech-driven innovators, while technologies continue to evolve to address cost challenges and process inefficiencies, and drive higher standards for water quality.


  • Water treatment involves processes, technologies, devices, and chemicals that help deliver clean water to an end-user.
  • The water treatment market includes three key segments. Point-of-entry treatments and technologies are those installed at entry to a commercial or residential water source, reducing contaminants to the full building. Point-of-use treatments and technologies are installed at a single point, the final barrier prior to the use of water. Wastewater treatment systems are facilities that treat water for reuse or for discharge to the community.
  • The global point-of-use water treatments market was estimated at $19.9 billion in 2018, with a 10.5% annual growth rate projected through 2026. The global point-of-entry water treatment market was estimated at $7.8 billion in 2019, with an annual projected growth rate of 4.1% through 2027.
  • The global market for technologies used in wastewater treatment facilities was estimated at $64.4 billion in 2018, projected to increase at an annual rate of 5.2% through 2023.

Increasing Water Pollution

  • Increasing water pollution globally has been identified as a key factor driving growth in the global water treatment industry. Industrialization, wastewater disposal, and the resultant growing contamination of water sources are projected to continue to drive growth for the water treatment systems market through at least 2024.
  • Pollutants are the major cause of the degradation in water supplies globally. Water pollution is on the rise, and contaminated water sickens approximately 1 billion people globally each year.
  • Contaminants found in the water supply, such as phosphorous, nitrogen, microbial pathogens, pesticides, and oxygen-consuming materials, degrade the quality of water supplies, making it unsuitable for end use. A 10-15% increase in nitrogen loads in river ecosystems is projected over the next 30 years.
  • In developing countries, 80% of sewage is discharged without being treated, leading to further contamination of lakes and rivers.
  • Water treatment systems filter and disinfect disease-causing contaminants, and point-of-use and point-of-entry technologies, such as reverse osmosis and ion exchange, provide barriers to contaminants in the water supply.

Technology Advancements

  • Technological advancements in the water treatment industry are a key growth driver for this market.
  • Technologies designed to improve the water supply are numerous and continually evolving. Advancements in processes, such as modular equipment design and membrane filtration technologies, support contaminant removal processes, making them safer and less expensive to implement. The efficiency of one such process, reverse osmosis, which removes chemicals, metals, and salts, from the water supply, has improved greatly due to the implementation of these new technologies.
  • Reverse osmosis owns the largest share of point-of-use water treatment technologies segment, due to its ability to dissolve 99% of feed water contaminants, as well as remove contaminants, such as nitrates, pesticides, fluoride, arsenic, and chlorine.
  • Other growing technologies, such as those used to support ozone treatment, reduce the need to use harsh chemicals for treating water.
  • Technological innovations are a key contributor to industry growth through 2024, and reverse osmosis technologies are expected to maintain their share during this time frame.

Energy Consumption of Treatment Facilities

  • High energy consumption is a challenge facing the water treatment industry. Wastewater filtration in the US uses 3% to 15% of the nation's power. Without energy-efficiency improvements, costs for water treatment processes will remain high.
  • Smaller plants, and those whose specific function is to remove nutrients, require more power. Improving energy efficiency, through advanced power systems, could provide cost savings of up to 50%. A study of 23 water treatment facilities in Germany and Switzerland showed that power consumption could be reduced about 67% with appropriate actions.
  • In municipal water treatment, biological processes (which require bacteria and other organisms to break down waste) are responsible for the most energy consumption. Several solutions that help reduce the energy demand associated with these processes include membrane technology (which uses 90% less energy) and more direct treatment of water being returned for contaminant elimination.
  • Performing an energy audit and considering more sustainable energy sources, such as solar, wind, or geothermal energy, are other ways to reduce energy use in water treatment facilities.

Water Treatment Installation and Operating Costs

  • High installation and operating costs impact wastewater treatment facilities, and, to a lesser extent, the point-of-entry segment of the water treatment market.
  • Wastewater treatment facilities are equipped with instrumentation and programmable logic controllers (PLC), which automate processes, but have associated high operational costs. Additionally, the more contaminants present in the water supply, the greater the number of steps in the treatment process, which also drives up cost. Depending on the complexity of the treatment process, pre-treatments may also be required, yet another cost associated with the treatment of wastewater.
  • Installation costs can also be significant. Industrial water treatment systems cost between $45,000 for a simple system, to over $10 million for a high-end, high-capacity system.
  • Point-of-entry water treatment systems, especially those that use reverse osmosis technology, typically have somewhat high installation costs, though they last for 5-7 years. Point-of-use water treatment systems are generally quite cost effective, though filters may need to be changed every 3-6 months.
  • The price of a point-of-entry water system ranges from $400 to upwards of $10,000. Point-of-use systems, such as water filters or water distillers, start at under $100 for a filter, to $1,500 for a higher-end water distiller.


  • Water quality testing and analysis includes systems and technologies used to monitor and optimize water quality, measuring factors such as temperature and pollutant levels, including pH, nitrates, phosphates, and other hazardous contaminants. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2 billion people globally drink contaminated water, underscoring the need for water quality testing and analysis systems.
  • The global water quality and testing market was estimated at roughly $3.4 billion in 2018, with growth rates ranging from 5.0% to 7.3% CAGR through 2025.

Population Growth and Industrialization

  • Population growth and industrialization have resulted in contaminated water supplies and rising pollution. Increasing levels of contamination have driven demand for water testing and analysis in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
  • As the global population grows, there is an increasing need to manage commercial development and water resources. Fifteen percent of the world's population lives in an area in which demand for fresh water exceeds supply, due to overpopulation.
  • Pollutants from industrial sources include lead, nitrates, phosphates, asbestos, and petrochemicals. These can be harmful for drinking water, as well as for marine life. Industrial pollution is often caused by inefficient waste disposal, with radioactive waste, sludge, and harmful chemicals being dumped into oceans and rivers.
  • Water testing is considered critical for government organizations looking to understand the contaminant levels in the water supply, and safeguard the public from environmental and health risks of contamination. Water testing is also important for individuals, to ensure their water is safe from pollutants.
  • Given the significant issues of industrial pollution, and the need for clean, safe water caused by population growth, water testing and analysis will continue to be important to help deliver safe, clean, water for the world's population.

Government Initiatives To Protect Water Supply

  • With projections of deteriorating water quality globally, governments around the world have been working to avoid water contamination and water shortages. Demand for water testing has resulted from strict regulations implemented by government organizations to preserve the quality of the water supply.
  • The United States government implemented the Clean Water Act (CWA), which regulates surface water quality standards and establishes a structure for the discharge of pollutants into waters. They also instituted the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), a standards-based set of regulations designed to ensure safety of the US water supply.
  • The Clean Water Act had a number of positive effects, including driving awareness of the problem of water pollution, and increasing the number of safe water bodies in the US by two-thirds.
  • India and China are regulating the use of water in various food, beverage, and pharmaceutical products, requesting water be tested within their facilities. As consumers in India become more aware of the importance of safe water, they expect the water supply to meet standards.
  • In 2010, the United Nations recognized the right of every person to have enough water to meet their needs, and to be safe, accessible, and affordable.
  • As governments continue to be involved in testing water supplies, setting standards for clean, safe, water, and seeing measurable results, the water testing industry will continue to be positively impacted.

Ongoing Instrument Repair and Maintenance

  • Water quality monitoring requires equipment that can be expensive to maintain and repair. Aging instruments can show corrosion, break, or have sensors that are difficult to keep clean. All of these issues provide a challenge in ensuring quality equipment for accurate water monitoring, as well as challenges in cost-containment.
  • Various technologies have been introduced to improve the performance of testing and monitoring instruments, offering improved durability, and a longer lifespan.
  • Polymers and titanium are materials that have been introduced as new sensor technology, offering the benefit of durability in salt water environments.
  • Copper-based cleaners and other technologies have been introduced as a means to keep sensors clean, which helps reduce maintenance costs.
  • While equipment degradation presents a challenge to the industry, new technologies are emerging to address this challenge, specifically with respect to cost reductions associated with maintenance.

Process Inefficiencies

  • Inefficient data collection and monitoring processes are an industry challenge. However, new technologies are being introduced to address these inefficiencies, particularly in an environment in which budgets and resources may be stretched.
  • Some specific process improvements include calibrating sensors in the lab and using smart technology to calibrate sensors more quickly.
  • Leveraging newer technologies may require more upfront investment, but costs should be recouped from the process efficiencies.

Workforce Training

  • Water quality monitoring instruments are fairly complex, and require significant training for users to manage. Additionally, as experienced workers leave the industry, knowledge about the complexities of the industry instruments, and processes, leave along with them. Workforce training is a challenge for the industry as it requires investment, as well as rethinking approaches surrounding the most efficient ways to move less experienced individuals up the steep learning curve.
  • New software products have helped some water monitoring companies bring employees up-to-speed more efficiently.
  • Software with built-in quality checks, and plug-and-play devices, minimize the opportunity for errors among less experienced employees.
  • Some equipment manufacturers also offer hands-on training to improve the ability of newer employees to efficiently and effectively manage their equipment.

Rural Area Water Quality Monitoring

  • Water quality monitoring in rural areas is a challenge for the water testing and analysis industry due to lack of connectivity to water labs, distance from water labs, and the need for human intervention, when real-time results are required.
  • Manual data-collection and data storage, when testing and monitoring water quality in rural areas, introduces potential quality issues, due to human error, and adds significant time to the monitoring process.
  • A desire for real-time monitoring to identify all factors, chemical, physical, and biological, which may be impacting the water quality, and to remediate these issues, is driving technological development in the industry.
  • Solutions including wireless quality sensing, remote quality monitoring, and smartphone-based, embedded water quality measurement approaches, which are gaining interest as potential factors to address the industry challenge of remote water quality measurement.



Dow Water and Process Technologies

  • Dow Water is a global leader in water-purification and specialty-separation technologies, whose goal is to provide safe drinking water for homes and communities, to help industries operate efficiently and sustainably, and to address challenges with water scarcity.
  • With a focus on innovation and leveraging state-of-the-art technology in their solutions, their technologies include ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF), reverse osmosis (RO), Ion exchange (IX), and electrodelonization (EDI).
  • These technologies address water contaminant issues, such as removal of pesticides and colors, acting as barriers to bacteria and other contaminants, eliminating trace contaminants, and water softening.
  • Dow Water also has a significant sustainability focus, recently launching a 'Clean Water Together' initiative in India to drive awareness around issues including clean water, water conservation and reuse, and ground water quality.


  • Ecolab is a global supplier of water treatment, chemicals and other technologies. Their products focus on providing clean water, safe food supplies, abundant energy, and ensuring a healthy environment. Their technologies have saved over 36.5 billion gallons of water to date in 2020, which is an amount that would meet the needs of over 126 million people.
  • Ecolab's water treatment products include filtration and disinfection equipment, and membrane separation devices.
  • With an eye toward innovation, Ecolab offers water treatment technologies, real-time data and quality monitoring, and water management software tools to help customers provide clean water that meets public health standards, and re-use and recycle water to increase operational efficiency.

Reverse Osmosis

  • Reverse osmosis (RO) is a dominant technology in the water treatment market, due to its ability to dissolve contaminants in the water supply. It works by pushing contaminants through a semi-permeable membrane.
  • Reverse osmosis technology is capable of dissolving 99% of ions, particles, bacteria, and pyrogens, from feed water.
  • Reverse osmosis technology is effective at treating both surface and ground water, and with treating large and small water flows. Some industries that leverage this water treatment technology are food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and semi-conductor manufacturing.
  • Reverse osmosis water filters, part of the point-of-use segment of the water treatment market, have been recommended as highly-effective in removing dangerous contaminants from water.

Ion Exchange

  • Ion exchange water treatment systems remove contaminants from water through water softening and water deionization, which exchanges one type of ion for another, removing the hazardous contaminants from the water.
  • Ion exchange technologies remove contaminants such as nitrates, sulfates, fluorides, silica, radium, arsenic, and borom.
  • DuPont's Ion Exchange water treatment products have driven productivity, efficiency, and safety improvements across industries such as bioprocessing, food and beverage, power generation and chemical.

Light Ray Activated Nanotechnology

  • Light Ray Activated Nanotechnology is an award-winning, water treatment technology, that uses a light energy-activated oxidation process to purify water, with no chemical additives, offering sustainability benefits, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness.
  • The AOP Plus technology, developed by startup, Puralytics, removes pathogens, petrochemicals, industrial compounds, fertilizers and pesticides from water.
  • The technology has also been leveraged in Puralytics 'Solarbag', an innovative, reusable water treatment bag, that has also been used to improve the water quality in rural, Amazonian populations.



ALS Global

  • ALS Global offers a range of testing and analysis services, including ground water, wastewater, and drinking water testing and analysis.
  • Their water testing and analysis services include aquatic toxicity testing, drinking water testing, organics, inorganics, metals, and microplastics testing, and waste water analysis.
  • Their testing services support site remediation efforts, studies, and other custom projects.

Vienna Water Monitoring Solutions

  • Vienna Water Monitoring Solutions offers automated, rapid (15 minute), online microbiological contamination measurements. Real-time measurement of contamination offers benefits of safety and efficiency of water treatment processes.
  • The company's technology, ColiMinder, uses direct measurement of enzymes in the target sample to measure its quality.
  • The technology is suitable for measurement of drinking water, waste water, industrial water, and surface water, as well as membrane activity.
  • The company has won numerous awards, including the 'most innovative new technology' award at the WaterSmart conference in 2016. It was also named one of fifteen 'technologies to watch' at the 2019 Bluetech innovation forum. Bluetech tracks technology trends and innovation in the water industry.

pH Sensors

  • pH sensors are used to measure the amount of alkalinity and acidity in water. They are typically used in a wastewater plant to ensure safety and quality of the water supply and treatment process. pH measurements range between 0-14, and can give an indication of problems such as pipe corrosion, or the accumulation of solids, or other industrial byproducts in a water supply.
  • A changing pH can also be an indicator of increasing pollution.
  • pH sensors offer accuracy and speed of results.
  • pH sensors represented $1.26 million of the global water testing and analysis market, and are projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.7% through 2025, making it one of the faster-growing segments of the water quality testing and analysis market.

Light Detection and Electrochemical Technology

  • Newer technology that is expected to have a prominent place in water contaminant testing is light detection and electrochemical technology.
  • This technology uses light absorption or identifies electrical irregularities to detect contaminants, even trace amounts.
  • This technology offers benefits of ease-of-use and cost-effectiveness.

Wireless Water Quality Monitoring

  • Wireless water quality monitoring is designed for use in remote locations, in which multiple environments are monitored, and samples collected, to then be analyzed at a lab. It offers the ability for data to be modeled shortly after it is collected, offering labor, cost and time-savings.
  • Wireless water quality monitoring eliminates numerous technical issues with data monitoring in these remote locations, including the need to configure wireless radios and servers, and challenges associated with the repair and maintenance of loggers.
  • Wireless water quality monitoring systems are also considered highly scalable, and they can be configured to notify those on the ground when certain contaminant levels are detected.

Research Strategy

To estimate market size and CAGR for the water treatment and water quality testing and analysis industries, we leveraged numerous market research topline reports, in which highlights of the industry, market size, and future projections were provided. Convergence between these reports was common, though small differences were observed across reports in the water quality testing market projections. We therefore provided a range of growth rates for the water quality testing market, demonstrating the potential upside offered by this industry. A similar strategy was leveraged to identify industry growth drivers and challenges. We also consulted industry-specific websites, articles, and publications, which provided industry-specific insights, for more context on growth drivers and challenges.

Key players and technologies in these industries were identified by using a combination of cited 'key players' from industry analysis topline reports, coupled with companies and technologies identified as innovative or one that represents the future of the industry.


  • "The global point of entry water treatment systems market size is expected to reach USD 10.8 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 4.1%, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. The market is expected to be driven by growing global population, increasing public health awareness, and rising water pollution."
  • "The global market for water and wastewater technologies reached $64.4 billion in 2018 and should reach $83.0 billion by 2023, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2% for the period of 2018-2023."
  • "The purpose of a public or private water treatment facility is to make water potable (safe to drink) and palatable (pleasant to taste) while also ensuring that there is a sufficient supply of water to meet the community’s needs. "
  • "Raw and untreated water is obtained from an underground aquifer (usually through wells) or from a surface water source, such as a lake or river. It is pumped, or flows, to a treatment facility....Then, a sequence of treatment processes — including filtration and disinfection with chemicals or physical processes — eliminates disease-causing microorganisms. "
  • "Point-of-Use (POU) devices treat water at the point of consumption. The technology provides the final barrier to the contaminants of concern before the water is consumed or used. Some commonly used technologies include:"
  • "Point-of-Entry (POE) devices are whole-house treatment systems mainly designed to reduce contaminants in water intended for showering, washing dishes and clothes, brushing teeth, and flushing toilets."