Towards more resilient and adaptable water distribution systems under future demand uncertainty

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The focus of this paper is on how water distribution systems can be made more resilient and adaptable, thus reducing their vulnerability to future changes. A performance evaluation methodology is outlined and used to assess the resilience of today's water infrastructure and its vulnerability to future changes, based on adopting four future scenarios, suitably adapted to represent future water demand states. The results highlight the sensitivity of key performance indicators to a range of future conditions relative to current conditions. The concept of future proofing is introduced and three strategies compared to design/re-design and operate the network, building in varying degrees of adaptive capacity to deliver solutions that are feasible under both today's and tomorrow's conditions. The key findings are that, without any intervention, all solutions are feasible when demand is equal to or less than the design case while resilience of the system improves for small decrease in demand, major reduction in demand shows a big improvement in water quality. Three future proofing strategies, namely operation, designed in operation and multistage design and operation show great potential to create flexibility that allows for operational diversity in the short term while trying to achieve long-term goals. The multistage design and operation strategy is able to outperform the other two strategies considering reduction in cost and improvement in performance of the system.

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