Ten Good Reasons To Build Dynamic Models


Courtesy of Innovyze

Over the last ten years computer technology and network modelling software have developed beyond all recognition, providing the necessary hardware and software tools to assist water distribution engineers in their design and planning work utilising fully dynamic all-mains models. However, many water supply companies still make important decisions based on static models that represent an arbitrary simplification of the network and probably contains incomplete and inaccurate demand information. The commercial wisdom of this is doubtful given that the cost of a major capital improvement program will be many times that of the cost of investing in the latest modelling software.

Here are ten good reasons to build fully dynamic all-mains models of your system (in no particular order):

1. Master Planning

To ensure that design decisions are made as accurately as possible, water supply companies should seek to understand their networks as fully and completely as possible. For instance, understanding the demand (loading) under a variety of conditions.

By simulating demand growth/decline and changes in non-revenue water to reflect expected future system operation, companies can ensure that their capital investment program is targeted to meet these challenges.

2. Supply Deficiency Investigation

By investigating the operation of the system under extreme conditions – even in excess of recorded events, modellers can assess the most suitable action to take. The model can be used to test pipe upsizing / replacement, system re-zoning, and the effect of installing new pumping plant and storage facilities. Most importantly - all this is done efficiently and without affecting a single customer.

3 Scenario Planning & Fire Flow Analysis

The model can be used to plan system work and simulate system failures in order to minimise disruption to customers. We can investigate the effect of exceptional demands & fireflow, ensuring adequate flow and pressure is available at all points of the system.

Assessing the effect of the increased demand on the system and using pressure-related demand profiles enables us to more accurately reflect the total system flow and the true effect on system storage.

4. Simulating Pollution Incidents

Using advanced modelling tools such as Wallingford’s InfoWorks WS software, companies can track the fate of any decaying or non-decaying substances as they move through the distribution system. This understanding enables the modeller to assess the action that must be taken, identify the required response time and address the most critical areas first.

The model can then be used to simulate mains flushing to facilitate the effective removal of the pollutant from the system, minimising the disruption to normal supplies.

5. Source Blending

By tracing the percentage of water received at any point in the system from any of the sources to the system modellers can track the hydraulic boundary between the sources, assessing the areas where source blending occurs. This enables the modeller to plan system modifications if necessary, often based on model results and spatial data such as customer complaints for taste and odour.

6. Pumping Systems Optimisation

Pumping costs are one of the most significant investments made annually by a water provider, yet very few assess their system operation, thereby failing to identify potential savings on OPEX.

The model can be used to optimise pump operation, maximising pumping during periods of cheaper electricity, and allow the modeller to assess the efficiency of the existing pumps and any need for replacement/refurbishment and the potential reduction in running costs that might result.

7. Chlorination

A well-calibrated model with accurate demand allocation can be used to assess system chlorination requirements. The water provider can assess the concentration necessary at the water treatment works / source and determine the requirement for any additional chlorine boosters within the system.

Accurate assessment of water quality including chlorine residuals can help the water provider reduce incidents of customer illness and customer complaints.

8. System Storage Optimisation

Models can be used to optimise the operation of storage facilities, balancing supply and demand to allow steady flow from a source, which in turn benefits treatment works’ operators and bulk suppliers.

Optimising the use of reservoirs and tanks prevents excessive retention times, improving water quality and reducing incidents such as bacterial growth in the reservoir or in the distribution system. A calibrated model can be used to ensure adequate reservoir turnover, and to test system re-zoning if required.

9. Pressure Management

A calibrated model can be used to assess the current system operating pressures and design pressure management schemes. This in turn can contribute to:

1. a reduction in system leakage
2. a reduction in burst incidents
3. extending the life of the assets
4. a reduction in pressure related demand

10. Sediment Modelling & Mains Flushing

Sedimentation Analysis enables the assessment of areas in the system that may be prone to sedimentation. This information can be analysed with mains material information and spatial data such as customer complaints of “dirty water” to pinpoint the reasons for the system problems and to optimise the use of mains flushing gangs to alleviate the problem.

A modeller can also simulate hydrant flow to develop an effective mains flushing programme, and use property address data held with the network to list customers affected by the flushing programme.


It becomes clear that water engineers no longer need to base multi-million dollar decisions on insufficient data, poor or outdated design and analysis tools. Software is now available to build fully calibrated dynamic models to include all necessary assets, and enable engineers to make informed and correct design and operational decisions. Moreover, the software tools now available improves the productivity of individual modellers by reducing the time taken to build fully calibrated all-mains models.

With the public’s continuing interest in the quality of water and environmental management, investment programmes that have been based on results from all-mains fully dynamic models will not only lead to greater confidence in the investment decision, but will make such programmes considerably easier to justify to the customer.

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