How Water Network Monitoring Makes Hydraulic Modelling Better

December 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

Paul Banfield

I’ve been working with Hydraulic modeling applications for more than 15 years. Ever since I began working with TaKaDu, a water network monitoring pioneer, I’ve been asked whether hydraulic modeling and water network monitoring collide or are complementary. In short, I will argue that one solution (good network monitoring) can make the other solution (hydraulic modeling) significantly better. Explaining how is the purpose of this blog post.

Hydraulic modeling: medium and long term analysis

Hydraulic modeling is a technology that has been used in the water utility space for more than 30 years. It is used to answer the big questions, medium and long term, on a water utility’s planning horizon:

  • Will a bigger pumping station be needed? Where?
  • A larger pipe?
  • How will the system behave upon a major growth corridors expansion?
  • What infrastructure is needed twenty years from now?

The key strength of hydraulic modeling applications is the ability to work with “what-if?” scenarios. For instance, in the case of flooding – what if a pump was turned off or a certain area needs to be evacuated?

Moving into operational models

In the recent years, there has been a focus on the potential use of hydraulic modeling to answer short term forecasting / prediction questions, specifically in the water distribution network. It could be used as a decision support tool for operational network managers.

There is one problem: when the utility’s telemetry, operations and modeling staff meet to discuss operational hydraulic modeling, they are typically nervous. A consistent list of concerns repeatedly comes up:

  • Good model outputs require good data coming in and telemetry inputs are notoriously fickle – they are not consistent or accurate enough for this application.
  • Good model outputs require an up to date model. Yet there are high costs in keeping hydraulic models updated and new infrastructure is added to water systems day after day. Models are generally only updated every few years and are not up to date.
  • Good model outputs require a good model of how water is consumed by customers – what the peaks and troughs are, how they vary between users, neighborhoods, the seasons and days of the week.

How water network monitoring fits in

Water network monitoring has the potential of complementing operational hydraulic models. For instance, water network monitoring can significantly assist in solving the telemetry quality issue. To ensure that a consistent high quality feed goes into the hydraulic model, TaKaDu can provide inputs on data quality and assist the utility in making the telemetry data better.

The reason is that good water network monitoring will audit and clean inconsistent telemetry data.

Another example is using water network monitoring to obtain high quality data on how water is consumed throughput the system by day, date, neighborhood and other criteria.

All in all, most utilities aspire to  have high quality hydraulic operational modeling systems as an important tool for critical decisions. But to seriously use them they must first address the data quality issue, the question of how is the network operates today before they try to predict the future.

This is how water network monitoring makes operational hydraulic models better.

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Entry filed under: Hydraulic Modelling, Paul Banfield.

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