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Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Proposed Research

CP420  Opening up distribution networks Asset Management
Project Appreciation and Objectives

The use of district metered areas (DMAs) has been very successful in reducing leakage and provided a convenient geographical area in which to manage water quality issues, capture asset data and measure asset performance. However, with greater emphasis on customer service and cost reduction, and as economic levels of leakage stabilise, it is important to question whether DMAs in their current form will continue to offer the optimal approach to distribution network management.

Transition to a more open network with larger and less restricted distribution areas may provide a better alternative. Through the benefits of improved flow, more stable pressures, and reduced potential for creation of water quality incidents from operation of boundary valves, it will be possible to increase network resilience, improve customer service, and reduce energy costs. However, this must be accompanied by an equal or improved approach to leak detection. This project aims to:

  • Understand the advantages and disadvantages associated with this alternative approach to network management.
  • Evaluate costs and benefits for use in developing a transition business case.
  • Develop an integrated approach to network management to satisfy long term company and customer requirements.

Benefits to Clients

  • Ability to assess whether, and where, network performance and customer service can be improved through the use of a more open network, whilst continuing to manage leakage.
  • Evaluate related costs and benefits, and where appropriate develop a business case to justify proposed changes.

Work Programme

  1. Explore and quantify the benefits of open networks in terms of customer service, leakage reduction, burst frequency, interruptions to supply, resilience, water quality, energy efficiency (pumping costs), and asset information.
  2. Identify ways of achieving an open network whilst maintaining or reducing leakage though use of alternative modelling (e.g. state estimation), increased pressure and flow monitoring, and increased customer meter penetration.
  3. Determine the restrictions and limitations to open network.
  4. Define the appropriate locations and situations for their application.
  5. Assess financial costs and benefits and likely timescales for implementation/ transition.

Project Output

  • A practical information resource, to help assess the effectiveness of open networks and develop a business case for implementation.
  • Regular Steering Group meetings and final Dissemination Workshop.

Related WRc Work

  • Road mapping of research needs based on the key drivers for six UK water utilities, subsequently updated for UKWIR to match their strategic research matrix, 2004-2008.
  • TR61 Version 10, CP347, 2010.
  • Alternative Approaches to Leakage Target Setting, Environment Agency, 2008.
  • Predicting the Impact on Network Performance of Changing Water Supplies, 2001.
  • Exploiting the DMA as the Base Management Unit of a Water Company, multi-client, 2001, and Scope for Implementation, Vivendi, 2002.

WRc's Portfolio Programme
Summary of the £1.5 million per annum research programme

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