Optimization of redundancy in branched water distribution systems

Megan L. Abbott



In developing countries many water distribution systems are branched networks with little redundancy. If any component in the distribution system fails, many users are left relying on secondary water sources. These sources oftentimes do not provide potable water and prolonged use leads to increased cases of water borne illnesses. Increasing redundancy in branched networks increases the reliability of the networks, but is oftentimes viewed as unaffordable. This paper presents a procedure for water system managers to use to determine which loops when added to a branch network provide the most benefit for users. Two methods are presented, one ranking the loops based on total number of users benefited, and one ranking the loops of number of vulnerable users benefited. A case study is presented using the water distribution system of Medina Bank Village, Belize. It was found that forming loops in upstream pipes connected to the main line had the potential to benefit the most users.