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The paper demonstrates a new model for determining the minimum cost for the design of
a water distribution system based on a combination of linear programming methodology
and a genetic algorithms approach. The optimal design of looped hydraulic pipe networks
belongs to the class of large combinatorial optimization problems that are difficult to
handle using conventional operational research techniques. Although many research
efforts have been made for the sake of achieving the optimal design of large loop water
distribution networks, there is still some uncertainty about finding a generally reliable
method. The author of the paper proposes a method in which the complementary usage
of deterministic and soft computing methods will ensure a new level for the quality of
outputs. The method is based on a combination of linear programming methodology and
a genetic algorithms approach and is intended for use in drinking water systems and the
rehabilitation of pressurized irrigation systems as well.

save

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2008

M. ČISTÝ, Z. BAJTEK

Milan Čistý, PhD., Assoc. Prof

Research fields: irrigation, application of soft computing methods in water engineering

**OPTIMAL DESIGN OF WATER
**

DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS

BY A COMBINATION OF

STOCHASTIC ALGORITHMS AND

MATHEMATICAL PROGRAMMING

Zbyněk Bajtek, Eng.

**Research fields: design of irrigation networks, programming
**

Department of Land and Water Resources Management,

Faculty of Civil Engineering, Slovak University of

Technology,

Radlinského 11, 813 68 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

e-mail: milan.cisty@stuba.sk

ABSTRACT

KEY WORDS

**The paper demonstrates a new model for determining the minimum cost for the design of
**

a water distribution system based on a combination of linear programming methodology

and a genetic algorithms approach. The optimal design of looped hydraulic pipe networks

belongs to the class of large combinatorial optimization problems that are difficult to

handle using conventional operational research techniques. Although many research

efforts have been made for the sake of achieving the optimal design of large loop water

distribution networks, there is still some uncertainty about finding a generally reliable

method. The author of the paper proposes a method in which the complementary usage

of deterministic and soft computing methods will ensure a new level for the quality of

outputs. The method is based on a combination of linear programming methodology and

a genetic algorithms approach and is intended for use in drinking water systems and the

rehabilitation of pressurized irrigation systems as well.

• Genetic Algorithm,

• Linear Programming,

• Optimal design of looped hydraulic pipe

networks

INTRODUCTION

A water distribution network is a system containing pipes, reservoirs,

pumps, and valves of different types, which are connected to each

other to provide water to consumers. It is an important component

of an urban infrastructure or agricultural landscape as an irrigation

project and requires significant investment. Therefore, researchers

are constantly searching for new ways to create more economical

and efficient designs. Although the problem of the optimal design of

water distribution networks has various aspects to be considered, it

is often viewed as a least-cost optimization problem with the pipe

diameters acting as the primary decision variables. In most situations,

the pipe layout, connectivity, and imposed minimum head constraints

at the pipe junctions (nodes) are taken as fixed design targets.

**The crudest optimization procedure is to evaluate all the possible
**

parameter combinations and pick the optimum one. In practice, the

experienced design engineer will rely on his personal experience

to avoid analyzing every possible configuration. The result of the

design is to produce a few feasible solutions (solutions that satisfy

the design constraints), which can then be priced. On large systems,

a number of factors limit the effectiveness of a such manual design

method.

Gessler (1985) suggested a simplified approach based on the

enumeration of a limited number of alternatives. In his work, he

took advantage of two considerations:

• After a combination of pipe sizes that give a hydraulically

feasible solution has been found, there is no need to test any other

pipe size combination that is significantly more expensive.

2008 SLOVAK UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

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2008/4 PAGES 1 — 7

**• After an infeasible solution has been encountered, any other size
**

combination, with all the sizes equal to or less than those, is an

infeasible solution.

Alperovits and Shamir (1977) presented a linear programming

gradient (LPG) in optimizing a water distribution network.

A segmental length of pipe with a differential diameter was used

as the decision-making variable. Kessler & Shamir (1989) used

the linear programming gradient (LPG) method as an extension to

this method. It consists of two stages: an LP problem is solved for

a given flow distribution and then a search is conducted in the space

of the flow variables. Later, Fujiwara & Khang (1990) used a twophase decomposition method extending that of Alperovits & Shamir

(1977) to non-linear modelling. Also, Eiger, et al. (1994) used the

same formulation as Kessler & Shamir (1989), which leads to the

determination of the lengths of one or more segments in each link

with discrete diameters. Some of these methods impose a restriction

on the type of hydraulic components in the network. For instance,

the presence of pumps in the network increases the nonlinearity of

the problem; as a result networks with pumps cannot be resolved

by some of the methods. These methods also fail in resolving large

looped systems.

Recently, researchers have focused on stochastic optimization

methods. The advantage of these methods is that they allow full

consideration of a system’s nonlinearity – a problem with which the

previously mentioned methods fail.

Simpson, et al. (1994) used simple genetic algorithms (GA) in

which each individual population is represented in a string of bits

with identical lengths that encode one possible solution. The simple

GA was then improved by Dandy, et al. (1996) using the concept

of the variable power scaling of the fitness function, an adjacency

mutation operator, and gray codes. Savic and Walters (1997) also

used simple GA in conjunction with an EPANET network solver.

Other evolutionary techniques have also been applied to the

optimization of a water distribution system, such as ant colony

optimization algorithms (Maier, et al, 2001), simulated annealing

(Loganathan, et al, 1995; Cunha and Sousa, 2001) and harmony

search (Geem, 2002).

**MATERIALS AND METHODS
**

In the proposed method two algorithmic techniques will be

employed – linear programming (LP) and genetic algorithms (GA).

A combination of these two methods with the aim of eliminating

the limitation of LP (it is not suitable for large networks with loops)

is used.

Genetic algorithms are search procedures inspired by the mechanics

of natural genetics and natural selection. This methodology is finding

2

Cisty.indd 2

**increased application to solve difficult problems of engineering,
**

science, and commerce. The present usage of evolutionary based

optimization techniques stems largely from the development of

evolution strategies by Rechenberg in Germany in the 1960’s and

the development of genetic algorithms by Holland in the USA soon

afterwards. The basic ideas are briefly summarized below; a good

introduction to the subject is given by Goldberg (1989).

The first step is to represent a legal solution to the problem by a string

of genes (seeking parameters) that can take on some value from

a specified finite range. This string of genes, which represents the

solution, is known as a chromosome. Then an initial population of

legal chromosomes is constructed at random. With each generation,

the fitness of each chromosome in the population is measured.

The fitter chromosomes are then selected to produce offspring for

the next generation, which inherit the best characteristics of both

parents. This process is repeated until some form of convergence

in fitness is achieved. The goal of the optimization process is to

minimize or maximize the fitness.

In the case of the design of a pipe network the optimization

problem can be stated as follows: minimize the cost of the network

components subject to satisfactory performance. The chromosome

can be a binary or integer string of numbers (representing possible

decisions), which defines the network’s design. Care must be taken

to incorporate all reasonably possible choices for each component

in the system, with an appropriate set of costs from which all the

schemes can be priced. In general, the more choices and flexibility

in the design options allowed at this stage, the greater the savings

will be for the optimized design.

A model is then set up, which incorporates all the options for

the individual network components. The GA then generates trial

solutions, each of which is evaluated by simulating its hydraulic

performance. Any hydraulic infeasibility, for example, failure to

reach a specified minimum pressure at any demand point, is noted,

and a penalty cost is calculated. Operational (e.g. energy) costs can

also be calculated at this point if required. The penalty costs are

then combined with the predicted capital and operational costs to

obtain an overall measure of the quality of the trial solution. From

this quality measure the fitness of the trial solution is derived.

The process can continue for many thousands of iterations, and

a population of good, feasible solutions will evolve.

For the purpose of clarity we will also briefly describe also the

optimization procedure of the pipeline network’s optimization using

linear programming. The mathematical formulation of this problem

is as follows:

X11 + X12 + ...+ X1n = B1

X21 + X22 + ...+ X2n = B2

etc.

Xm1 + Xm2 + ...+ Xmn = Bm

(1)

OPTIMAL DESIGN OF WATER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS BY A COMBINATION ...

10. 12. 2008 10:03:47

2008/4 PAGES 1 — 7

**A11 X11 + A12 X12 + ...+ AxyXxy ≤ C1
**

etc.

(2)

D1 X11 + D2 X11 + ...+ Dj Xmn = min

(3)

**The solution has to comply with the inequalities:
**

X11 > 0; X12 > 0 etc. up to Xmn > 0

(4)

Where Xij is

Bi –

Amn –

Ci –

Di –

**unknown length of selected diameter j on section i
**

total length of section

hydraulic loss in section m and diameter n

allowable total loss for section

price of pipeline with diameter number i

**When, in order to resolve the task of rehabilitating the pipeline
**

networks, we apply linear programming, the unknown will be the

lengths of the individual pipeline diameters. In conditions (1) we

must mathematically express the requirement that the sum of the

unknown lengths of the individual diameters in each section has

to be equal to its total length. The second type of the equation in

constraints (2) represents the request that the total pressure losses

in a hydraulic path between a pump station and critical node (the

end of the pipeline, extreme elevation inside the network) should

be equal to or less than the known value. This constraint is based

on the minimum network pressure requirement needed for the

operation of the system. Given the minimization requirement for the

investment costs, the objective function (3) sums up the products of

the individual pipeline prices and their required lengths.

RESULTS

Mathematical programming methods, which undisputedly lead

to global optimality, can be applied only in the case of branched

networks with no loops for a single loading. In the case of looped

networks, even for the simplest case of a least cost design, under one

single loading for a gravity fed network (no tanks, no pumps), the

debate about global optimality is still, today (after about 40 years),

a research issue. In fact, for looped networks, no deterministic

theoretical methods exist to reach global optimality. For this reason

various heuristic methods are applied to these problems.

But while using heuristic methods (e.g. GA), problem of testing it

arises. Tasks which heuristic methods are capable of solving (e.g.,

the optimization of a looped network) are often not possible to solve

with any other methods, especially not deterministic methods. So it

is not possible to prove their mathematically reliability of them. For

this reason it is obvious to use the so-called benchmark networks

for testing. The problem which follows is that commonly used

**benchmark networks are relatively small water distribution systems,
**

and the question always remains how the developed methods will

work in large (real life) systems.

We conducted some experiments for this reason. For the GA

method it does not matter if it resolves a looped or branched

network. It is possible to optimize both of these configurations, but

it is advantageous to use it for looped networks, because branched

networks without loops could be absolutely reliably resolved by

a linear programming method. But, for the purpose of testing

we used GA for resolving a large branched network. In the next

step it is also possible to resolve the same network with linear

programming. Because the result from the linear programming is

without doubt global minimum, we can see how close GA gets

to this goal. This is competent testing of GA or another heuristic

methodology on a large network. Because, as previously mentioned,

there is no methodological difference for GA when it is used to

resolve a branch or looped network, we can extrapolate that the

precision in finding an optimal solution will be similar in the case

of a looped network. From the results it could be derived that there

is still a reason to look for a competent method for optimizing

water distribution network, because the differences in the various

hydraulic schemes were about 5-15%.

The proposed method is based on a combination of linear

programming methodology and a genetic algorithms approach. The

main idea is that linear programming is more reliable than heuristic

methods, but because it is not suitable for resolving looped networks,

the GA method is used for decomposing a complex looped network

into a group of branched networks - each with identical hydraulic

behavior as a looped network with identical diameters. Identical

hydraulic behavior means that there are identical flows in the

corresponding pipes and identical pressures in the corresponding

nodes in looped and branch networks. Decomposition by GA

should only be done on large networks - for smaller networks, all

possible branched networks could be found to which it is possible to

transform the original looped network in the optimization process.

The optimization models using LP are then set up for each member

of this group of branched networks. After evaluating (by LP) the

high number of possible branch networks which produce local

minima, an optimal global solution could be easily chosen for the

original looped network.

The loop can be transformed to a branch layout without changing

the hydraulic behavior of the network if we split the loop in the

node in which flows are coming to from both sides. It is one from

the demand nodes (in which water is taken from a network – e.g.,

a hydrant). But which node it is depends on other network conditions

as the pump station location, diameters and lengths of pipes, other

demand allocations, etc. Because we do not know these parameters

before the diameters on network are proposed (that is the task which

OPTIMAL DESIGN OF WATER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS BY A COMBINATION ...

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10. 12. 2008 10:03:49

2008/4 PAGES 1 — 7

**we are solving), a loop split will be done in every demand node, and
**

then we will propose diameters in such a manner that this meeting

of flows will happen in this node. In this way we can produce many

alternatives of splitting the network into branched. The node which

was chosen for this splitting must be doubled; the original node

will be assigned to one link from which the flow is coming to the

node and its twin node to another link from the opposite side of the

original node. The demand in the node will be divided into these

two nodes with a rational number of alternatives. The number of

alternatives depends on the amount of the demand – a high demand

in a node requires more alternatives. So the number of demand

nodes multiplied by the number of these alternatives of demand

splitting gives the number of possible branch networks to which it

is possible to divide a one-loop network.

A network may consist of more than one loop, of course. For this

reason the following algorithm intended for the transformation of

a looped network to a branched one will be run:

1. The number of loops will be determined on the original

network:

L=P–J+1

**4. Every alternative (row in the matrix) for every loop will be
**

combined with each other row in the matrices for other loops in

the network, which produces a group of branch networks for LP

computation.

5. All the alternatives are evaluated in the case of total enumeration

(for small networks), or the alternatives from step 4 are selected

by a genetic algorithm when searching for the optimal solution in

large networks.

(5)

**Where L is the number of loops
**

P – the number of pipes

J – the number of junctions

Fig. 1 Schematic network with 3 loops

**Tab. 1 Split matrix for loop 1 from Fig. 1
**

2. For every loop the vector of links (pipes) which it consists of

will be determined. This will be done in successive steps to

loop after loop and when some link has already been assigned to

any previously analyzed loop (it is already part of another loop

vector of pipes) it will not be assigned to a vector of links of the

currently analyzed loop. This assignment of pipes to loops is

graphically shown on fig. 1a (by line types).

3. To every loop a three-column matrix (tab. 1) will be assigned.

Table 1 demonstrates loop 1 from fig. 1. It will consist of

a column for split nodes N in which the loop can be divided

and from the column of split links L (which are part of the loop

vector determined in the previous step and which are connected

to N). The original node N will be cloned to its twin node N-L

for the sake of splitting the loop (this twin node N-L replaces the

original node N on link L – fig. 1b or 1c nodes 5-4 or 5-5). For

every node N one or more links L could be assigned for which

we can obtain different branch networks while splitting the loop

in node N. The third parameter is the ratio R in which the original

demand in node N will be divided between nodes N and N-L. In

table 1 only 3 ratios are considered (0.25, 0.5 and 0.75), and as

can be seen for the first combination of N and L, it will produce

3 versions of this split alternative of the loop. The same situation

holds for the other combinations of L and N.

4

Cisty.indd 4

Split node

Split link

Split ratio

1

1

0.25

1

1

0.5

1

1

0.75

1

5

0.25

…

…

…

2

1

0.25

…

…

…

3

2

0.25

…

…

…

4

3

0.25

…

…

…

4

4

0.25

…

…

…

5

4

0.25

…

…

…

5

5

0.25

…

…

…

OPTIMAL DESIGN OF WATER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS BY A COMBINATION ...

10. 12. 2008 10:03:52

2008/4 PAGES 1 — 7

Tab. 3 Node data for the two-loop network

Fig. 2 Two-looped network

**The test problem is a two-loop network with 8 pipes, 7 nodes
**

and one reservoir (Fig. 2) which was obtained from the literature

(Alperovits & Shamir, 1977). All the pipes are 1000 m long, and the

Hazen-Williams coefficient is assumed to be 130 for all the pipes.

The minimum nodal head requirement for all the demand nodes is

30 m (0,3 Mpa). There are 14 commercially available pipe diameters

(Tab. 2).

The network consists of two loops, so two three-column matrices

(described in step 3 above) were determined for each of them.

For the first loop it is for pipes 2, 3, 4 and 7 and for the second

Tab. 2 Cost data for the two-loop network

Diameter

(mm)

152

203

254

Cost

(units)

2

5

8

11

16

23

32

(mm)

305

356

406

457

508

559

610

(units)

50

60

90

130

170

300

550

Diameter

Cost

25.4 50.8 76.2 102

Node

Demand

(m3/h)

Ground level

(m)

1 (Reservoir)

-1,120.0

210.00

2

100.0

150.00

3

100.0

160.00

4

120.0

155.00

5

270.0

150.00

6

330.0

165.00

7

200.0

160.00

**5, 6 and 8. The computations show, that it was not necessary to
**

choose a smaller ratio R for dividing the original demand in the

node between the twin nodes than 0.1. This led to 1452 possible

combinations of branch networks to which the original looped

network was transformed. For performing linear programming

computations the solver LPSOLVE was called from software

originally developed by the authors of the paper. Because of

the relatively small number of iterations, it was also possible to

run a total enumeration of the problem. The GA was set up with

integer coding, and the chromosome consists of four genes. The

first gene is the indicator of the pair: split node – split link for the

first loop (every possible pair is numbered); the second gene is

the dividing ratio for the first loop R1 multiplied by ten. The third

and fourth genes are analogous to the second loop. Roulette wheel

selection is used to chose the parents for the next generation.

A one-point crossover was selected because of the relatively

short chromosome, and the probability of the selected pair of

strings being subjected to the crossover operator was taken as

pc=0.97. The mutation rate was set to be pm= 0.02. The objective

function is the cost of the solution. No penalty function was used,

because the LP that is in the proposed algorithm final producer

of every partial solution produces in contrast to GA only feasible

solutions. The results together with the results from other authors

testing their methods on this benchmark network are summarized

in table 4.

As can be seen, the optimal solution was reached by the proposed

method. In Eiger’s work a different interpretation of the HazenWiliams equation was used than in other works (it is common to use

the interpretation which is embedded in the Epanet network solver,

which was also used in our work). This leads to the result that

there are some nodes in the Eiger solution in which there is smaller

pressure of 0,3 MPa than was required.

Our solution gives the same results either using GA or if a total

enumeration is performed.

OPTIMAL DESIGN OF WATER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS BY A COMBINATION ...

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2008/4 PAGES 1 — 7

**Tab.4 – Results for benchmark network
**

Pipe

number

Alperovits and

Shamir (1977)

**Kessler and Shamir
**

(1989)

Eiger et al. (1994)

D [mm]

L [m]

D [mm]

L [m]

D [mm]

L [m]

D [mm]

L [m]

D [mm]

256.00

508.0

1000.00

457.2

1000.00

457.2

1000

457.2

1000.00

457.2

744.00

457.2

996.38

8.0

66.00

304.8

238.02

304.8

1000

254.0

202.00

304.8

3.62

152.4

934.00

254.0

761.98

254.0

798.00

254.0

3

1000.00

457.2

1000.00

406.4

1000.00

406.4

1000

406.4

1000.00

406.4

4

319.38

8.0

713.00

76.2

1000.00

25.4

1000

101.6

1000.00

25.4

680.62

152.4

287.00

50.8

5

1000.00

406.4

836.00

406.4

628.86

406.4

1000

406.4

693.00

406.4

164.00

355.6

371.14

355.6

307.00

355.6

990.00

254.0

10.00

203.2

902.00

254.0

98.00

203.2

1000.00

25.4

2

6

7

8

Cost

784.94

304.8

109.00

304.8

989.05

254.0

215.06

254.0

891.00

254.0

10.95

8.0

1000.00

152.4

819.00

254.0

921.86

254.0

181.00

8.0

78.14

8.0

1000.00

25.4

990.93

152.4

920.00

76.2

9.07

101.6

80.00

50.8

497 525

417 500

402 352

419 000

1000

1000

1000

254.0

254.0

25.4

403 454

**SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
**

Although the genetic algorithms method helps in many areas of

engineering, including the design or operation of water distribution

systems, it has some disadvantages:

• it cannot guarantee the generation of an optimal solution,

particularly for large-scale systems

• it requires extensive fine-tuning of the algorithmic parameters,

which are highly dependent on the individual problem

• it can produce solutions in which the diameters can be optimally

found from an economic point of view, but the diameters could

in some conditions be distributed randomly: for instance, for the

branched part of networks there could be bigger diameters in

some parts after smaller ones in the direction of the flow which

is wrong.

For these reasons the authors of this paper propose a method in

which genetic algorithms are incorporated, but the final solution is

Cisty.indd 6

Čistý (2008)

L [m]

1

6

Geem (2002)

**produced by linear programming. This method is described in the
**

paper and tested on a benchmark network successfully. The method

can also be run without GA with a total enumeration (e.g., totally

eliminate randomness), which of course takes more CPU time. This

gives opportunity for comparing the results with and without GA.

By involving GA, we get results much earlier. In the paper this

testing is done on a benchmark model; large network testing will be

presented in future works.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This study was supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the

Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak

Academy of Sciences, Grants No. 1/0496/08, 1/0585/08 and by

Slovak Research and Development Agency, Grant No. APVV0443-07.

OPTIMAL DESIGN OF WATER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS BY A COMBINATION ...

10. 12. 2008 10:03:57

2008/4 PAGES 1 — 7

REFERENCES

•

•

•

•

•

•

•

**ALPEROVITS, E. AND SHAMIR U. (1977): Design of
**

Optimal Water Distribution Systems. Water Resources Research,

AGU, vol.13, no. 6, pp.885-900

CUNHA, M. C. AND SOUSA, J., (2001): Hydraulic

infrastructures design using simulated annealing. Journal of

Infrastructure Systems, ASCE, 7(1), 32-39.

DANDY, G. C., SIMPSON, A. R., AND MURPHY, L. J.

(1996): An Improved Genetic Algorithm for Pipe Network

Optimization, Water Resources Research, 32(2), 449.

EIGER, G., SHAMIR, U. AND BEN-TAL, A. (1994): Optimal

Design of Water Distribution Networks, Water Resources

Research, 30(9), 2637-2646.

FUJIWARA, O. AND KHANG, D.B. (1990): A Two-Phase

Decomposition Method for Optimal Design of Looped Water

Distribution Networks, Water Resources Research, 26(4), 539549.

GEEM, Z. W., KIM, J. H. AND LOGANATHAN, G.

V. (2002): Harmony search optimization: application to

pipe network design. International Journal of Modelling and

Simulation, 22(2), 125-133.

GOLDBERG, D.E. (1989): Genetic Algorithms in Search,

Optimisation and Machine Learning. New York, AddisonWesley.

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**KESSLER, A. AND SHAMIR, U. (1989): Analysis of the
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Linear Programming Gradient Method for Optimal Design

of Water Supply Networks, Water Resources Research, 25(7),

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LOGANATHAN, G. V., GREENE, J. J. AND AHN, T. J.

(1995): Design heuristic for globally minimum cost waterdistribution systems. Journal of Water Resources Planning and

Management, ASCE, 121(2), 182-192.

MAIER, H. R., SIMPSON, A. R., FOONG, W. K., PHANG,

K. Y., SEAH, H. Y., AND TAN, C. L. (2001): Ant Colony

Optimization for the Design of Water Distribution Systems,

Proceedings of the World Water and Environmental Resources

Congress, Orlando, Florida, USA

SAVIC, D. A. AND WALTERS, G. A. (1997): Genetic

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SIMPSON, A.R., DANDY, G.C., AND MURPHY, L.J.

(1994): Genetic Algorithms Compared to Other Techniques for

Pipe Optimization, Journal of Water Resources Planning and

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