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Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260

Reliability analysis of regional water distribution systems

Avi Ostfeld *,1
Civil Engineering Department, Technion ± Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
Received 13 July 2000; received in revised form 14 March 2001; accepted 11 May 2001

Reliability analysis of water distribution systems is a complex task. A review of the literature reveals that there is currently no
universally acceptable de®nition or measure for the reliability of water distribution systems as it requires both the quanti®cation of
reliability measures and criteria that are meaningful and appropriate, while still computationally feasible. This paper focuses on a
tailor-made reliability methodology for the reliability assessment of regional water distribution systems in general, and its appli-
cation to the regional water supply system of Nazareth, in particular. The methodology is comprised of two interconnected stages:
(1) analysis of the storage±conveyance properties of the system, and (2) implementation of stochastic simulation through use of the
US Air Force Rapid Availability Prototyping for Testing Operational Readiness (RAPTOR) software. Ó 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.
All rights reserved.

Keywords: Analysis; Network; RAPTOR; Regional; Reliability; Stochastic simulation; Water distribution systems

1. Introduction speci®ed time interval under prescribed environmental

conditions. While the question: ``Is the system reliable?''
This paper focuses on a tailor-made reliability is usually understood and easy to answer, the question
methodology for the assessment of regional water dis- ``Is it reliable enough?'' does not have a straightforward
tribution systems in general, and on its application to response as it requires both the quanti®cation and cal-
the regional water distribution system of Nazareth, in culation of reliability measures.
particular. No system is perfectly reliable. In every system un-
A water distribution system is an interconnected desirable events ± failures ± can cause a decline or in-
collection of sources, pipes, and hydraulic control ele- terruption in system performance. Failures are of a
ments (e.g., pumps, valves, regulators, and tanks) stochastic nature, and are the result of unpredictable
aimed at delivering water to consumers in prescribed events that occur in the system itself and/or in its envi-
quantities and at desired pressures. Such systems are rons.
often described in terms of a graph, with links repre- Reliability considerations for water distribution
senting the pipes, and nodes representing connections systems are an integral part of all decisions regarding
between pipes, hydraulic control elements, consumers, the planning, design, and operation phases. A major
and sources. The behavior of a water distribution problem in reliability analysis of water distribution
system is governed by: (1) physical laws that describe systems is to de®ne reliability measures that are
the ¯ow relationships in the pipes and hydraulic con- meaningful and appropriate, while still being compu-
trol elements, (2) consumer demand, and (3) system tationally feasible. Traditionally, reliability is provided
layout. by following certain heuristic guidelines, like ensuring
Reliability in general, and that of a water distribution two alternative paths to each demand node from at
system in particular, is a measure of performance. A least one source, or having all the pipe diameters
system is said to be reliable if it functions properly for a greater than a minimum prescribed value. By using
these guidelines it is implicitly assumed that reliability
is assured, but the level of reliability provided is not
Tel.: +972-4-8292-782; fax: +972-4-822-8898.
quanti®ed or measured. Therefore only limited con®-
E-mail address: (A. Ostfeld). dence can be placed in these guidelines, since reliability
D.Sc., Project Manager, TAHAL ± Consulting Engineers Ltd. is not considered explicitly.

1462-0758/01/$ - see front matter Ó 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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254 A. Ostfeld / Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260

2. Water distribution system reliability Thus, there is no universal measure or method for
calculating the reliability of water distribution systems.
Quantitatively, the reliability of a water distribution
system can be de®ned as the complement of the proba- 2.1. Literature review
bility that the system will fail, a failure being de®ned
as the inability of the system to supply its consumers' Reliability assessment of water distribution systems,
demand. as in the research literature, can be classi®ed into two
Reliability analysis involves three interconnected main categories: topological, and hydraulic. Following
stages: (1) identi®cation of measures and criteria to as- is a brief review.
sess system reliability, (2) quanti®cation of the proba-
bilistic nature of the behavior of system components and 2.2. Topological reliability
consumer demand, and (3) determining the proper en-
vironmental conditions under which the system is de- Topological reliability refers to the probability that a
signed to operate. given network is physically connected, given its com-
Two distinct types of events can cause a water dis- ponents' mechanical reliabilities (i.e., the components'
tribution system to fail: (1) system components going probabilities to remain operational over a speci®ed time
out of service (e.g., pipes and/or hydraulic control ele- interval under speci®ed environmental conditions).
ments), and/or (2) consumers' demand (i.e., ¯ow rates at Wagner, Shamir, and Marks (1988a) used reachabil-
minimum pressures) exceeding design values. ity and connectivity to assess the reliability of a water
Three issues are involved in assessing the reliability of distribution system, where reachability is de®ned as the
a water distribution system: probability that a given demand node is connected to at
(1) De®nition of reliability measures. These must be least one source, and connectivity as the probability that
determined from the consumers' point of view, and all demand nodes are connected to at least one source.
should specify a required level of service (e.g., duration Shamsi (1990), and Quimpo and Shamsi (1991) used
and frequency of supply interruptions, expected un- node pair reliability (NPR), where the NPR measure is
served demand, damage incurred when failure occurs). de®ned as the probability that a speci®ed source node is
(2) De®nition of the possible failures considered. Fail- connected to a speci®ed demand node.
ure is an event in which the reliability measures de®ned Measures used within this category consider only the
in (1) above are not met. Failure can occur either if a connectivity between nodes (as in transportation or
system component fails (e.g., a pipe, valve, pump, tank), telecommunication network reliability models), and
if consumer demand exceeds design demand, or a therefore do not take into account the level of service
combination of both. When analyzing the reliability of a provided to the consumers during a failure. The exis-
water distribution system these two types of events and tence of a path between a source and a consumer node,
their possible mutual dependencies should be taken into in a non-failure or once a failure occurred, is only a
account. necessary condition for supplying required demands.
(3) Construction of a mathematical model that com-
bines (1) and (2) above. The mathematical model is used 2.3. Hydraulic reliability
to evaluate the level of system reliability subject to the
measures de®ned in (1), and the failure distributions Hydraulic reliability is the probability that a water
de®ned in (2). distribution system can supply its consumers' demand
However, de®ning reliability measures which are over a speci®ed time interval under speci®ed environ-
meaningful and appropriate, while still being of a form mental conditions. As such, hydraulic reliability refers
that can be computed eciently, is not an easy task, as directly to the basic function of a water distribution
stated by Tanimboh and Templeman (1993, p. 77): system: conveyance of desired water quantities at de-
sired pressures to desired appropriate locations at de-
The reliability of a water supply network is a partic- sired appropriate times.
ularly dicult entity to de®ne precisely and to mea- The straightforward way to evaluate the hydraulic
sure. Many di€erent de®nitions have been proposed reliability of a water distribution system is through
in the research literature in the past decade. An un- stochastic simulation (e.g., Bao & Mays, 1990; Fujiwara
fortunate feature of most of the candidate de®ni- & Ganesharajah, 1993; Ostfeld, Shamir, & Kogan, 1996;
tions is that the more satisfying and generally Su, Mays, Duan, & Lansey, 1987; Wagner, Shamir, &
useful the de®nition is, the more dicult and time Marks, 1988b). A typical stochastic (or Monte Carlo)
consuming it is to measure quantitatively. Those re- simulation procedure, involves generation of random
liability measures which can be calculated easily events out of the mechanical component reliabilities
seem not to contain the essence of an intuitively through random number generators, evaluation of the
sensible de®nition of reliability. resulted events on the system performance, and accu-
A. Ostfeld / Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260 255

mulation of performance statistics (e.g., frequency of ference between the water delivery capacity and the
component failures, reduction of pressure at consumer consumer demand feeds the aggregated storage; if the
nodes). The statistics collected depends on what reli- water delivery capacity is less than the consumer de-
ability measures are desired. In theory, any index can be mand, then the di€erence needed to ful®ll the consumer
calculated, as long as the appropriate needed data of the demand is supplied from the aggregated storage; if the
system is available. While stochastic simulation is the aggregated storage plus the water delivery capacity fail
most ``accurate'' way to evaluate the ``true'' reliability of to meet the consumer demand, then a shortfall (and its
a system, it is the most expensive and dicult to ex- duration) is recorded.
trapolate (i.e., a ``black box'') method. Running the consumer demand sequence (historical
An excellent additional reference summarizing the or design values) through a grid of storage capacity vs.
state-of-the-art methods for assessing the reliability of water delivery capacity pairs, results in a graph of iso-
water distribution systems was published by the ASCE reliability lines (or isolines of shortfall durations) for the
Task Committee on Risk and Reliability Analysis of system considered. Such a graph for the Nazareth re-
Water Distribution Systems (Mays, 1989). gional water distribution system is shown in Fig. 1.
The methodology and application presented here- Point A in Fig. 1 shows the normal water delivery
after, is a hybrid method of the two: topological and capacity vs. storage (i.e., no component failure), and
hydraulic reliability concepts, tailor-made to regional point B, the water delivery capacity vs. storage after a
water distribution systems. failure has occurred, that is approximately at an isoline
of four hours of annual shortfall.
The storage conveyance analysis is accomplished as-
3. Methodology suming that all system components are functioning, and
therefore constitutes an expression of the ability of the
Regional water distribution systems serve as the hy- system to satisfy the consumers' demand, where the only
draulic connections (supplying quantities of water at constraining factor being the required consumption
minimum pressures) between sources (wells, reservoirs), quantities.
and inlets to municipal regions. As such, these systems Furthermore, the storage conveyance analysis maps
usually consist of just a few hydraulic control elements, the present situation (and the future situation if future
and may be categorized as ``lumped supply±lumped demands are considered) of the system on the plane of
demand'' models (Wagner, Shamir, & Marks, 1988a). A water delivery capacity vs. storage, and thus gives only a
lumped supply±lumped demand model is comprised of a deterministic indication of the reliability level of the
single aggregated consumer fed by a single aggregated system, as the only cause of shortfall is the system's
storage reservoir and a single aggregated source. The hydraulic ability and/or the consumers' demand re-
ability to model a given regional water distribution quirements.
system as lumped supply±lumped demand is the core of Storage conveyance analysis thus does not de®ne the
the methodology presented below. ``probability distance'' from a given storage conveyance
The methodology consists of two interconnected design point, to a given isoline of shortfall duration
stages: (1) storage±conveyance analysis of the trade-o€ (e.g., the zero line, in Fig. 1), once failures are consid-
between storage capacity, water delivery capacity, and ered.
annual durations of shortfall, and (2) stochastic simu- This ``probability distance'', which is a function of the
lation using the outcome of (1) through use of the US system redundancy, the system component reliabilities,
Air Force Rapid Availability Prototyping for Testing and the system maintenance level, is the reliability
Operational Readiness (RAPTOR) software (Carter, quanti®cation of the system. It is ``measured'' using
Jacobs, Ochao, & Murphy, 1997). stochastic simulation based on RAPTOR. This is stage
two of the methodology.
3.1. Stage 1: Storage conveyance analysis
3.2. Stage 2: Stochastic simulation using RAPTOR
Damelin, Shamir, and Arad (1972) were the ®rst to
use the storage±conveyance analysis for shortfall esti- RAPTOR (Carter, Jacobs, Ochao & Murphy, 1997) is
mations of pumping equipment in a lumped supply± a product of the RAPTOR Quality Team within Head-
lumped demand model. quarters (HQ) Air Force Operational Test and Evalua-
The basic idea is rather simple: for a given water tion Center (AFOTEC) Logistics Studies and Analysis
delivery capacity and storage pair (either an existing or Team (SAL). Standing for Rapid Availability Proto-
design point), a sequence of consumer demands is aimed typing for Testing Operational Readiness, it is a public-
to be met from the aggregated source and the aggregated domain stochastic modeling simulation environment for
storage. If at a speci®c time, the consumer demand is creation of reliability, availability, and maintainability
fully met by the water delivery capacity, then the dif- (RAM) models. The user models his system graphically
256 A. Ostfeld / Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260

Fig. 1. Shortages analysis ± storage vs. water delivery capacity.

by drawing a reliability block diagram (RBD), com- The de®nitions of the reliability blocks and the con-
prised of reliability blocks connected through ``k-out-of- necting k-out-of-n nodes comprise the RBD. The RBD
n'' intermediate nodes, by answering questions about the is the model representation of the system, used for
way blocks fail and are repaired, and by de®ning the k- ``measuring'' the ``probability distance'' between an ex-
out-of-n nodes. As the blocks fail and are repaired during isting (or planned) water delivery capacity±storage
the simulation time, system-level reliability, maintain- point, and an iso shortfall line. The ``probability dis-
ability and availability parameters are determined. tance'' is thus the reliability quanti®cation of the system.
A reliability block, the basic unit with which the en-
tire RBD model is established, can be either an oper- 3.3. Application
ating reliability block or an event reliability block. An
operating reliability block (in the current model, a pipe, Figs. 1±7 show the application of the methodology to
a pumping unit, a tank, etc.) represents an operating the regional water distribution system of Nazareth. Fig.
unit of the system that can fail at any time according to 8 is a sensitivity analysis to the Nazareth water distri-
a time-based failure probability distribution. A random bution system reliability results, through enlarging of
number is drawn from the entered failure probability the mean time to repair (MTTR) data.
distribution to determine how long such a block will run Fig. 1 is the shortages analysis diagram (i.e., stage 1
before failing. When a block fails, repairs will begin for of the methodology), showing the iso shortfall lines for
that block if a spare unit is available, according to a di€erent pairs of water delivery capacity vs. storage for
time-based probability of repair distribution. The block the monthly ¯ow, peak ¯ow data, and daily consump-
will resume running when repairs are completed. An tion pattern (assumed) of the system. Point A in Fig. 1 is
event reliability block is a component that is not time- the existing (as of August 1994) water delivery capacity
dependent. Based on a given success probability, the vs. storage pair, and point B corresponds to about a
block will be determined to be either a success or a four-hour annual shortage recorded after a failure event
failure at the beginning of each simulation, and remain occurred in the system.
in that state for the entire run. Fig. 2 is a schematic representation of the Nazareth
The reliability blocks are connected through k-out-of- regional water distribution system, showing its status as
n nodes, a k-out-of-n node being a node where k (out of of August 1994, and expansions as of May 1998. The
n) inlet paths are required in order for the node to be sources of the system are the National Water Carrier
considered ``up'' (i.e., not in a state of failure). and regional wells (e.g., Tel-Adashim wells, Iksal wells).
A. Ostfeld / Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260 257

Fig. 2. Nazareth regional water distribution system.

Fig. 3. RBD schematic for Nazareth regional water distribution system.

The system discharges to the elevated storage tanks of expansions. Fig. 3 shows three layers: the ®rst is
Nazareth (tanks #1, 2, and 3), from which water is the source layer, the second is the conveyance layer,
supplied to the consumers. and the third is the storage layer. At each node of the
Fig. 3 is the RBD schematic for the Nazareth regional system the k-out-of-n status is de®ned such that the entire
water distribution system, including its design ®nal stage system is ``up'' for a state of zero annual shortfall. For
258 A. Ostfeld / Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260

Fig. 4. Snapshot from RAPTOR at a ``Green'' run state during stochastic simulation.

Fig. 5. Snapshot from RAPTOR at a ``Yellow'' run state during stochastic simulation.
A. Ostfeld / Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260 259

Fig. 6. Snapshot from RAPTOR at a ``Red'' run state during stochastic simulation.

Fig. 7. Cost vs. reliability for the Nazareth regional water distribution

example, all three Tel-Adashim wells need to function for

the system to be ``up'', but only three out of the Netofa
and Kana wells. The entire storage of the Nazareth tanks
can be supplied from either the wells or through the
National Water Carrier through Shimshit pumping sta-
tion, making the Nazareth tanks a node of ``1 of 2''.
Fig. 4 is a snapshot from RAPTOR at a ``Green'' run
state during stochastic simulation, where a ``Green''
state is de®ned as a state in which no blocks in the RBD
are in a failed status. Fig. 8. Sensitivity analysis to the Nazareth water distribution system
Fig. 5 is a snapshot from RAPTOR at a ``Yellow'' reliability results, through enlarging the MTTR data (SA stands for
run state during stochastic simulation, where a ``Yel- sensitivity analysis, BR for base run).
260 A. Ostfeld / Urban Water 3 (2001) 253±260

low'' state is de®ned as a state in which some of the As the methodology is basically for water distribution
blocks in the RBD are failed, but the overall system is systems that can be modeled as lumped supply±lumped
``up'' (e.g., one of the Netofa wells is down, but since demand, additional research is needed for extending the
only three out of four of the Netofa and Kana wells method for more complex cases.
need to be operational, the entire system is ``up'').
Fig. 6 is a snapshot from RAPTOR at a ``Red''
run state during stochastic simulation, where a ``Red''
state is de®ned as a state in which some blocks on Acknowledgements
the critical path in the RBD are failed, causing the
overall system to be ``down'' (i.e., being in a failure This paper is the outcome of a project funded by
mode). the Israeli Water Commission, entitled ``Reliability of
Fig. 7 shows the results of running RAPTOR with the Municipal Water Distribution Systems ± Theory and
schematic shown in Figs. 4±6. The system reliabilities Application'', whose funded support is gratefully ac-
obtained (i.e., the probabilities of zero annual shortfalls) knowledged. The data for the Regional Water Distri-
are: 0.864 as of August 1994, 0.923 for the expansions as bution System of Nazareth were obtained by courtesy
of May 1998, and 0.993 for the ®nal design stage. The of Mekorot ± Israel National Water Company Co.
additional costs for obtaining those reliabilities are: 7.53
million New Israeli Shekels (NIS) (NIS 1  US$0.25) for
May 1998, and 43.61 million NIS for the ®nal design References
Fig. 8 shows a sensitivity analysis to the Nazareth Bao, Y., & Mays, L. W. (1990). Model for water distribution system
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larging the MTTR data. The top part of Fig. 8 shows the Carter, Jacobs, J., Ochao, L., & Murphy, K. E. (1997). Rapid
time to repair accumulated probability density functions availability prototyping for testing operational readiness (RAP-
used: an MTTR of 0.142 days for the base run (BR) (i.e., TOR). Version 2.99, US Air force,
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