Special Issue "Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Urban Water Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2022) | Viewed by 13032

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Rita Salgado Brito
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Urban Water Unit, Hydraulics and Environment Department, National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, 1700-066 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: infrastructure asset management; performance assessment; urban drainage systems: wastewater and stormwater; hydraulic and water quality parameters monitoring; hydraulic modeling; urban resilience; nature-based solutions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Helena Alegre
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil, Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: infrastructure asset management; urban water systems; performance assessment systems; public policies; strategic planning; water losses and energy efficiency management; water and environment.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Water will focus on infrastructure asset management (IAM) of urban water systems. IAM is the set of processes that utilities need to have in place to ensure that infrastructure performance corresponds to service targets over time, that risks are adequately managed, that the corresponding costs, in a lifetime cost perspective, are as low as possible, and that asset’s value is optimized. Driven by long-term objectives, IAM embraces strategic, tactical, and operational cycles.

Our world faces challenges such as those addressed in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, currently intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The contribution of urban water services is vital. We learned from this pandemic that we need to be prepared for the unexpected, and that flexible, robust, and autonomous services and assets can bolster that. They must become more resilient, safer, and more efficient and effective, while ensuring a good service for all in an affordable manner. Digital transition and circular economies are simultaneously opportunities and challenges.

IAM supports this transition from the current urban water systems to their aimed future state.

The Guest Editors will consider scientific and case-based papers that address the aforementioned issues, including governance, social, economic, and technical aspects.

Dr. Rita Salgado Brito
Dr. Helena Alegre
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

 

Keywords

  • Infrastructure asset management
  • Strategic asset management
  • Urban water systems
  • Urban water services
  • Performance assessment
 

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Article
Risk-Based Inspection and Rehabilitation Planning of Service Connections in Intermittent Water Supply Systems for Leakage Management in Arid Regions
Water 2022, 14(24), 3994; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14243994 - 07 Dec 2022
Viewed by 444
Abstract
Most of the leakage in water distribution systems operating with plastic pipes occurs at service connections (SCs), while the existing tools plan rehabilitation of pipes. With limited water resources, intermittent supplies in arid regions further enhance the failure vulnerability of metal fittings on [...] Read more.
Most of the leakage in water distribution systems operating with plastic pipes occurs at service connections (SCs), while the existing tools plan rehabilitation of pipes. With limited water resources, intermittent supplies in arid regions further enhance the failure vulnerability of metal fittings on water mains due to scale formation and large pressure transients. The present research developed a risk-based methodology for the proactive maintenance of SCs in intermittent water supply systems. A five-generation bottom-up hierarchical approach aggregated the basic hydraulic, physical, and water quality factors to determine the vulnerability of structural failures of SCs. Hydraulic parameters (pressure and velocity) were estimated by simulating a distribution network of 366 water mains of diameters ranging from 110 mm to 225 mm serving 371 SCs in a residential neighborhood located in the Qassim region of Saudi Arabia. Age, depth, and length of SCs’ estimated the condition index, while soil corrosivity and condition of the water mains were also counted when assessing the structural failure index for each SC. Water quality parameters, e.g., pH, turbidity, and iron, that can contribute to the vulnerability of an SC’s failure were also included. Fuzzy-based methods first assessed the relative importance weights of the basic input parameters at the bottom of the hierarchy and the risk factors in the middle of the hierarchy. Subsequently, the performance and condition scores were aggregated to develop respective indices. As the consequence of structural failure is high for the SCs serving households with a large number of residents, the final risk index aggregates the vulnerability and consequence at the hierarchy’s top. The developed model was effectively validated by comparing the SCs of high priority with the leaking and repaired SCs in the past. The method will be a useful tool for planning proactive inspection and rehabilitation of SCs of intermittent supply systems to minimize water losses (less than 8% of the national benchmark) in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
Protection of Water Distribution Networks against Cyber and Physical Threats: The STOP-IT Approach Demonstrated in a Case Study
Water 2022, 14(23), 3895; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14233895 - 30 Nov 2022
Viewed by 615
Abstract
Water critical infrastructures are undergoing a process of digital transformation that entails an increasing integration between the physical and cyber layers of the system. This integration brings efficiency and monitoring advantages, but it also exposes water systems to a new threat surface that [...] Read more.
Water critical infrastructures are undergoing a process of digital transformation that entails an increasing integration between the physical and cyber layers of the system. This integration brings efficiency and monitoring advantages, but it also exposes water systems to a new threat surface that includes cyberattacks. Formed in 2017, STOP-IT is Europe’s first project dedicated to developing cyber-physical security solutions tailored to the water sector. During the 4 years of collaboration, the STOP-IT team has codeveloped an extensive list of technologies that integrates cyber and physical layers of infrastructure, allowing water utilities to prevent, detect, assess, and treat risks, as well as simulate scenarios of attacks and explore how to react to increase preparedness. This article first introduces the overall aim and main outcomes of the STOP-IT project and then focuses on the risk management integrated framework composed of modeling solutions developed to help water utilities identify vulnerabilities and protect critical parts of their systems. The solutions are presented along with the results from the demonstration activities performed by a selected water utility concerning three risk scenarios that were assessed through the mentioned integrated framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
Infrastructure Asset Management: Historic and Future Perspective for Tools, Risk Assessment, and Digitalization for Competence Building
Water 2022, 14(8), 1236; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14081236 - 12 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1104
Abstract
This article aims at analyzing the historic development of infrastructure asset management (IAM) resulting from the increase of challenges over time. Furthermore, it aims at suggesting the corresponding requirements for the enrichment of educational programs to provide the decision makers of tomorrow with [...] Read more.
This article aims at analyzing the historic development of infrastructure asset management (IAM) resulting from the increase of challenges over time. Furthermore, it aims at suggesting the corresponding requirements for the enrichment of educational programs to provide the decision makers of tomorrow with the right competences. The evolution of IAM is here described as characterized by three periods introducing an increased complexity of analysis and thereby, a more powerful system for urban water management: (a) Data collection and development of computerized information systems including statistical methods for information management; (b) application of risk analysis including sources of hazards and their consequences; and (c) introduction of a holistic sustainable perspective including governance, social and economic aspects (circular economy), environmental impacts, and the condition of physical assets including digital systems. A variety of competencies are needed to obtain the safe management of urban water systems, in particular for the provision of water services in medium- and large-scale cities. Similar competencies are needed for other infrastructures, like buildings, roads and railroads, and IT systems. The elements of sustainability including risk assessment and digitalization should be incorporated in master programs for civil engineering world-wide. This paper is not designed as a scientific paper, but as inspirational for IAM practitioners and for the development of enriched educational programs of technical universities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
Article
A Treatment Reliability-Based Method for Supporting Infrastructure Asset Management of Wastewater Treatment Plants
Water 2022, 14(7), 1106; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071106 - 30 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 973
Abstract
A simple and consolidated reliability-based method widely used to unveil the real reliability and stability of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is herein proposed to trigger decision making on operational improvements and asset management for maintaining or improving treatment effectiveness, reliability, and efficiency. Five-year [...] Read more.
A simple and consolidated reliability-based method widely used to unveil the real reliability and stability of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is herein proposed to trigger decision making on operational improvements and asset management for maintaining or improving treatment effectiveness, reliability, and efficiency. Five-year data (2015–2019) from 16 Portuguese activated sludge WWTPs were used. For the 73% of the yearly data which fitted a lognormal distribution, Niku’s coefficient was computed to assess the plant annual reliability for biological oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and total suspended solids (TSS). The standard deviation of the annual concentrations was used to characterize the plant stability, and the maximum standard deviations allowed to comply with the European discharge requirements for urban WWTPs were derived. The results demonstrate extended aeration WWTPs were more reliable and stable than conventional aeration WWTPs (0.98 reliability vs. 0.82 for BOD5, 0.97 vs. 0.91 for COD, and 0.94 vs. 0.89 for TSS). Furthermore, the lower reliabilities and stabilities were found for the smaller WWTPs. These results are important for strategic asset management for designing and rehabilitation of the wastewater treatment system. At tactical and operational levels, for resources’ allocation and operating conditions set up, the computed WWTP’s coefficient of variation allows establishing the mean effluent concentrations required for compliance with a given reliability for different scenarios of discharge requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
An Enabling Environment for Asset Management through Public Policy: The Benefits of Standardization and Application to the Water Sector
Water 2021, 13(24), 3524; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243524 - 09 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1593
Abstract
Water services—including urban water supply, wastewater, and stormwater services—are essential to society and critical for protecting human health and the well-being of communities. Goal 6 of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognizes this importance and aims to “ensure availability and [...] Read more.
Water services—including urban water supply, wastewater, and stormwater services—are essential to society and critical for protecting human health and the well-being of communities. Goal 6 of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognizes this importance and aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” Despite progress, the UN reports billions of people still lack water and sanitation services. Many governments around the world face the challenge of balancing between investment in new assets, programs, and services and providing the required funding for repair and replacement of existing water assets. This paper argues infrastructure asset management establishes a foundational framework for the system of operations, management, and importantly, governance of assets to deliver services. An enabling environment for asset management, in addition to supporting the delivery of services, also contributes to meeting public policy objectives. The research question is: How can governments utilize public policy to enable asset management and consequently achieve societal objectives. A variety of public policy instruments used to enable infrastructure asset management and support achievement of government goals and objectives, such as the UN SDGs, are outlined and analyzed. The methodology involved a survey and case studies drawn from three countries, focused on the water sector. It also presents outcomes, common elements, and the need for and benefits of standardization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
Knowledge Management and Operational Capacity in Water Utilities, a Balance between Human Resources and Digital Maturity—The Case of AGS
Water 2021, 13(22), 3159; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223159 - 09 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1431
Abstract
Digitalization and knowledge management in the water sector, and their impacts on performance, greatly depend on two factors: human capacity and digital maturity. To understand the link between performance, human capacity, and digital maturity, six AGS water retail utilities were compared with all [...] Read more.
Digitalization and knowledge management in the water sector, and their impacts on performance, greatly depend on two factors: human capacity and digital maturity. To understand the link between performance, human capacity, and digital maturity, six AGS water retail utilities were compared with all Portuguese utilities using Portuguese benchmark data (2011–2019). AGS utilities achieved better results, including in compound performance indicators, which are assumed to be surrogates for digital maturity. These compound indicators were also found to correlate positively with better performance. In fact, AGS utilities show levels of non-revenue water (NRW) (<25%) below the national median (30–40%), with network replacement values similar to the national median (<0.5%). These results seem to imply that higher digital maturity can offset relatively low network replacement levels and guarantee NRW levels below the national average. Furthermore, regarding personnel aging index and digital maturity—two internally developed indicators—there was an increase in the digital maturity and aging of the staff, which, again, raises questions about long-term sustainability. The growing performance and the slight increase in digital maturity can be attributed to group-wide capacity building and digitalization programs that bring together staff from all AGS utilities in year-long activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
Model-Driven Strategies for Sulfide Control in a Regional Wastewater System Receiving Tannery Effluents in Portugal
Water 2021, 13(20), 2838; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202838 - 12 Oct 2021
Viewed by 872
Abstract
Ageing infrastructure are a concern for many wastewater utilities. This is accentuated with the presence of hydrogen sulfide within the sewer headspace, known to induce concrete corrosion, toxicity and odours. Some industrial effluents contain significant sulfide concentrations, however most field studies in the [...] Read more.
Ageing infrastructure are a concern for many wastewater utilities. This is accentuated with the presence of hydrogen sulfide within the sewer headspace, known to induce concrete corrosion, toxicity and odours. Some industrial effluents contain significant sulfide concentrations, however most field studies in the literature refer to domestic networks, or lab/pilot scale sulfide abatement strategies for varied effluents. Hence, the objectives of this work are: (1) To obtain data regarding the evolution of sulfides in a full-scale industrial sewer system in Portugal, receiving wastewater from a number of tanneries; (2) model their fate within the system and (3) experimentally evaluate sulfide precipitation with iron salts. Field work evidenced heavily sulfide loaded effluents, exceeding by far literature values for sewer systems. Modelling was carried out based on the AeroSept+ model, specifically calibrated to this type of effluent. Results showed the model was capable of reproducing the overall levels of sulfide in wastewater and H2S in the sewer headspace, while allowing insights into industrial discharges, originating a set of proposed interventions for sulfide abatement. This may be carried out by iron salts addition, in a ratio of 2.75:1, at existing monitoring stations. This approach was fundamental for an affordable performance assessment, under considerable uncertainty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
Performance Assessment System to Wastewater Utilities Strategic Planning
Water 2021, 13(18), 2489; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13182489 - 10 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1257
Abstract
Urban water utilities face growing challenges in compliance with increasingly demanding legislation, tightening budgets, ageing personnel, decreasing infrastructure reliability, increasing operational costs, regulatory pressure, and climate change. Within this context, tracking the alignment of the performance with the mission and strategic objectives of [...] Read more.
Urban water utilities face growing challenges in compliance with increasingly demanding legislation, tightening budgets, ageing personnel, decreasing infrastructure reliability, increasing operational costs, regulatory pressure, and climate change. Within this context, tracking the alignment of the performance with the mission and strategic objectives of the organization, based on reliable and up-to-date data, is of utmost importance to enable effective and continual improvement management. Organizational performance assessment in the water sector has been a topic of growing attention since the 1990s due to the increase in the role of regulators and tighter legislation. Proactive utilities are incorporating sustainability, resource efficiency, resilience, and continual improvement principles in their practices. Strategic planning provides the road map for management and interconnecting the different areas of the organization. An essential component of strategic management planning is the adoption of a tailored performance assessment system (PAS), allowing a better response to these challenges from the water utility management perspective. This paper presents a novel PAS at the strategic level, which was tested and validated with wastewater utilities, in a co-creation process. The proposed PAS fully adopts the objectives recommended in international standards, with a corresponding set of criteria and metrics, and a validated proposal of reference values for the metrics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
Performance Assessment System for Energy Efficiency in Wastewater Systems
Water 2021, 13(13), 1807; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13131807 - 29 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1204
Abstract
Performance assessment is essential to effectively evaluate and monitor the activity of water utilities, support decision making, and encourage continuous improvement. Performance assessment systems (PAS), covering several service objectives and criteria, have been successfully applied in water supply and wastewater systems. Tailored approaches [...] Read more.
Performance assessment is essential to effectively evaluate and monitor the activity of water utilities, support decision making, and encourage continuous improvement. Performance assessment systems (PAS), covering several service objectives and criteria, have been successfully applied in water supply and wastewater systems. Tailored approaches focusing on the assessment of the energy use and efficiency in wastewater systems are still limited. This paper aims at the development and demonstration of a comprehensive PAS for energy efficiency, tailored for wastewater systems, incorporating criteria related to energy consumption, operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, and environmental impacts, such as untreated discharges and greenhouse gases emissions, among others. Management and control of excessive or undue inflows to these systems is specifically addressed by several novel criteria and metrics. The proposed PAS should be adapted by each utility to be aligned with the objectives of the organisation and with the implemented asset management strategy. The proposed approach and the resulting consolidated PAS are thoroughly described. Results from the application of the PAS to several Portuguese utilities are discussed. This PAS aims at contributing to a reliable and replicable process to assess energy efficiency in wastewater systems and to encourage a more rational energy management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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Article
Water Pipe Replacement Scheduling Based on Life Cycle Cost Assessment and Optimization Algorithm
Water 2021, 13(5), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050605 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1656
Abstract
Water distribution networks (WDNs) comprise a complex network of pipes and are crucial for providing potable water to urban communities. Therefore, WDNs must be carefully managed to avoid problems such as water contamination and service failures; however, this requires a large budget. Because [...] Read more.
Water distribution networks (WDNs) comprise a complex network of pipes and are crucial for providing potable water to urban communities. Therefore, WDNs must be carefully managed to avoid problems such as water contamination and service failures; however, this requires a large budget. Because WDN components have different statuses depending on their installation year, location, transmission pressure, and flow rate, it is difficult to plan the rehabilitation schedule within budgetary constraints. This study, therefore, proposes a new pipe replacement scheduling approach to smooth the investment time series based on a life cycle cost (LCC) assessment for a large-scale WDN. The proposed scheduling plan simultaneously considers both the annual budget limitation and the optimum expenditure on the useful life of pipes. A multi-objective optimization problem consisting of three decision-making objectives—minimum imposed LCC on the network, minimum standard deviation of annual investment, and minimum average age of the network—is thus solved using a nondominated sorting genetic algorithm to obtain an optimal plan. Three scenarios with different pipe replacement time spans and different annual budget constraints are considered accordingly. The results indicate that the proposed scheduling framework provides an efficient water pipe replacement scheduling plan with a smooth management budget. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems)
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