Risk-based prioritization of pipe replacement in a drinking water distribution system


Asset management for the distribution networks is a challenge for the drinking water sector worldwide. The company WMD Drinkwater NV, which provides drinking water to Drenthe in the Netherlands, is also experiencing pipe bursts due to asbestos cement pipes. Due to financial and resource constraints, it is not feasible to replace all of the AC pipes in a short period of time. Based on the problem, the overall aim of this project is to provide an alternative methodology for the AC pipes replacement prioritization for WMD Drinkwater NV, to solve the asset management challenge of WMD. The suggested pipe replacement methodology will help WMD, and other drinking water companies facing similar challenges, make better and more conscious decisions regarding the pipe replacement program.
In the current Asset Management Decision Support System (AMDSS) of WMD, the number of bursts in the past years is the most important factor in predicting the remaining lifetime of individual pipes. Which means, pipes are being replaced only after they have endured several breaks. This has a direct impact over the level of customer satisfaction, Moreover, it also poses difficulties for the pipe replacement program in practice. It is possible for a pipe without a history of bursts, and thus not yet planned for replacement, to experience many bursts within a short period of time. This means the drinking water company has to suddenly prioritize such pipe to be replaced. In the current AMDSS, the consequences of pipe bursts were also assessed based on subjectivity using weighting factors and expert judgment. A methodology for predicting the frequency of pipe bursts, a methodology for assessing the consequences of pipe bursts, and a methodology for assessing risks of pipe bursts were developed in this study.

(Citation: Tirtamarina, A., Kapelan, Z., Blokker, E.J.M. – Risk-based prioritization of pipe replacement in a drinking water distribution system – 19th International Computing & Control for the Water Industry Conference, 4-7 September 2023)

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