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The Impacts of Spatially Variable Demand Patterns on Water Distribution System Design and Operation

Faculty of Computing, Engineering, and Media, De Montfort University, Leicester LE2 7DR, UK
Unit of Environmental Engineering, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 567;
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 11 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
PDF [2405 KB, uploaded 19 March 2019]


Resilient water distribution systems (WDSs) need to minimize the level of service failure in terms of magnitude and duration over its design life when subject to exceptional conditions. This requires WDS design to consider scenarios as close as possible to real conditions of the WDS to avoid any unexpected level of service failure in future operation (e.g., insufficient pressure, much higher operational cost, water quality issues, etc.). Thus, this research aims at exploring the impacts of design flow scenarios (i.e., spatial-variant demand patterns) on water distribution system design and operation. WDSs are traditionally designed by using a uniform demand pattern for the whole system. Nevertheless, in reality, the patterns are highly related to the number of consumers, service areas, and the duration of peak flows. Thus, water distribution systems are comprised of distribution blocks (communities) organized in a hierarchical structure. As each community may be significantly different from the others in scale and water use, the WDSs have spatially variable demand patterns. Hence, there might be considerable variability of real flow patterns for different parts of the system. Consequently, the system operation might not reach the expected performance determined during the design stage, since all corresponding facilities are commonly tailor-made to serve the design flow scenario instead of the real situation. To quantify the impacts, WDSs’ performances under both uniform and spatial distributed patterns are compared based on case studies. The corresponding impacts on system performances are then quantified based on three major metrics; i.e., capital cost, energy cost, and water quality. This study exemplifies that designing a WDS using spatial distributed demand patterns might result in decreased life-cycle cost (i.e., lower capital cost and nearly the same pump operating cost) and longer water ages. The outcomes of this study provide valuable information regarding design and operation of water supply infrastructures; e.g., assisting the optimal design. View Full-Text
Keywords: resilience; water distribution system; spatially variable demand patterns; capital cost; energy cost; water quality resilience; water distribution system; spatially variable demand patterns; capital cost; energy cost; water quality

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Diao, K.; Sitzenfrei, R.; Rauch, W. The Impacts of Spatially Variable Demand Patterns on Water Distribution System Design and Operation. Water 2019, 11, 567.

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