This paper presents a new data-driven method for leak localization in water distribution networks. The proposed method relies on the use of available pressure measurements in some selected internal network nodes and on the estimation of the pressure at the remaining nodes using Kriging spatial interpolation. Online leak localization is attained by comparing current pressure values with their reference values. Supported by Kriging; this comparison can be performed for all the network nodes, not only for those equipped with pressure sensors. On the one hand, reference pressure values in all nodes are obtained by applying Kriging to measurement data previously recorded under network operation without leaks. On the other hand, current pressure values at all nodes are obtained by applying Kriging to the current measured pressure values. The node that presents the maximum difference (residual) between current and reference pressure values is proposed as a leaky node candidate. Thereafter, a time horizon computation based on Bayesian reasoning is applied to consider the residual time evolution, resulting in an improved leak localization accuracy. As a data-driven approach, the proposed method does not need a hydraulic model; only historical data from normal operation is required. This is an advantage with respect to most data-driven methods that need historical data for the considered leak scenarios. Since, in practice, the obtained leak localization results will strongly depend on the number of available pressure measurements and their location, an optimal sensor placement procedure is also proposed in the paper. Three different case studies illustrate the performance of the proposed methodologies.
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