The effectiveness of pressure-reducing valves (PRVs) for optimal pressure management of water distribution networks (WDNs) is proven, but problems and operational limitations have been highlighted by some recent experiences. In this study, we analyse the functioning of a piston-actuated pressure-reducing valve (PA-PRV) with a mechanical pilot which is subjected to low-flow regimes, a condition that is often observed in real water distribution networks. The analyses were carried out by means of laboratory tests featuring two sets of experiments, i.e., (a) by testing the behaviour of the PRV when a pre-established initial value and subsequent variation of flow rate occurs in the system and (b) by testing the PRV against a temporal series of flow rates observed at the inlet section of a real district metered area. The first set of tests showed that the PA-PRV tends not to maintain pressure at the imposed set-point and exhibits an unstable behaviour characterised by significant pressure oscillations under some flow rate conditions. The second set of laboratory tests showed that the anomalous behaviour identified in the first set of tests can occur under ordinary operational conditions of a network.
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