The current paper proposes a novel methodology for near–real time burst location and sizing in water distribution systems (WDS) by means of Multi–Layer Perceptron (MLP), a class of artificial neural network (ANN). The proposed methodology can be systematized in four steps: (1) construction of the pipe–burst database, (2) problem formulation and ANN architecture definition, (3) ANN training, testing and sensitivity analyses, (4) application based on collected data. A large database needs to be constructed using 24 h pressure–head data collected or numerically generated at different sensor locations during the pipe burst occurrence. The ANN is trained and tested in a real–life network, in Portugal, using artificial data generated by hydraulic extended period simulations. The trained ANN has demonstrated to successfully locate 60–70% of the burst with an accuracy of 100 m and 98% of the burst with an accuracy of 500 m and to determine burst sizes with uncertainties lower than 2 L/s in 90% of tested cases and lower than 0.2 L/s in 70% of the cases. This approach can be used as a daily management tool of water distribution networks (WDN), as long as the ANN is trained with artificial data generated by an accurate and calibrated WDS hydraulic models and/or with reliable pressure–head data collected at different locations of the WDS during the pipe burst occurrence.
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