Transition of water demand and treatment plant overcapacity: a case study of the Seoul Metropolitan City, Korea

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study deals with the overcapacity problem of water treatment plants in Korea, and mainly discusses status, causes, and engineering options. To this end, we first statistically analyze the recent trend of demand, revealing that the demands of small- and mid-size systems are still increasing while that of large-size systems is now decreasing. Since the existing approach to plan capacity implicitly assumes that demand will increase at a regular rate, we estimate excess capacities and system utilizations of large-size systems. From these results it is found that the large-size systems are suffering from serious overcapacity, thus necessitating that engineers make very difficult decisions given that systems are still expanding the capacities of plants due to a lack of awareness of the current demand trend. For other systems where there is a better understanding of the transition of demand, planners have ceased to expand plants or have closed down relatively old plants in efforts to reduce O&M costs. To address this problem, quick recognition of the transition of demand is being highlighted by the concepts of integrated resources management and cybernetics. Therefore, we examined how quickly the new trend of the Seoul case could be precisely recognized and appropriately addressed. Using the Bayesian parameter estimation method, we found that a new trend can be recognized six years after the transition of demand.

Keywords: bayesian parameter estimation, excess capacity, overcapacity, system utilization, water demand

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