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CE 516

Design of Water Distribution Systems

In this section, we have learned how to size pipelines and pumps for pipe networks.
We will now examine some of the practicalities which need to be considered when
designing such closed conduit systems. This is a review of section 2.5 in your
text (which you should read). The primary function of water distribution systems
are to

1. meet the water demands of users while maintaining acceptable pressures

in the system
2. supply water for fire protection at specific locations within the system,
while maintaining acceptable pressures for normal service.
3. provide sufficient level of redundancy to support minimum level of service
during emergency conditions (i.e. power loss or water main failure.)

The components of a water distribution system include:

• pipelines - carry water from the treatment facility to the users.

transmission mains - the largest pipes which carry flow from the water
treatment facility to the network. These pipes are often greater than
(D > 600 mm).
feeder mains - (pipelines which feed flow from the transmission main
to the individual pipe networks of every service area (D ∼ 400 - 500 mm)
distribution mains - the grid of pipelines which provides service to
all users (D ∼ 150 - 300 mm)
service lines - pipelines which go from the distribution mains to the
individual house/facility.

The individual lines are sized as per momentum equation (Darcy-Weisbach) and
energy equation (head loss equation.)

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Components (continued)

• pumps - maintain required pipeline service pressure. Because of variable de-

mand requirements multiple pumps or pumps with variable motors are often

booster pumps - maintain required service pressure along long pipelines

fire-service pumps - provide additional capacity for emergency situations

Pumps operate at the intersection of pump performance and network

system curves and must adjust to highly variable demand. As such,
multiple pumps may be required for steady, cyclical, and emergency

• storage facilities - accommodates demand fluctuation by storing excess

water until it’s necessary

ground storage - ground level storage which discharge water to the

system with a pump
elevated storage - storage tank at the elevation required to deliver
water at required pressure (or head).

• Valves - required for removing components and rerouting flows

• Meters - required for monitoring flows

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Component Design Life

The preferred design life for the various components of water supply systems is
given with the following table (Chin, Table 3.11)

Component Design Period Design Capacity

Sources of supply
River indefinite Max daily
Wellfield 10-25 Max daily
Reservoir 25-50 Average annual
Low-lift 10 Max daily
High Lift 10 Max hourly
Water Treatment 10-15 Max daily
Service Reservoir 20-25 Working storage +
fire + emergency
Distribution system
Pipe or Conduit 25-50 Max daily + fire OR
max hourly demand
Distribution Grid

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Operating Pressure of System

The required system pressure demands on several considerations listed below:

• excellent flow to a 3 story building requires 290 kPa

• adequate flow for residential areas requires 240 kPa

• adequate flow to a 20 story building requires 830 kPa*

*Please note this isn’t desirable because of waste and leak, instead most tall
buildings have their own on site pumps. Generally, pressures of greater than
650 kPa should be avoided.

• adequate flow to most systems recommends 410-520 kPa

ordinary consumption for 10 story buildings
adequate service for sprinklers in buildings of 4-5 stories
adequate fire hydrant service
adequate margin for fluctuations due to clogging and other losses

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Water Demand

Demands of the entire population must be considered before designing a water

distribution system. Possible demand sources include:

• residential

• commercial

• industrial

• public

The average city requires 660 liters/day/person. The distribution of demand

between all the possible sources is given in the table below.

Typical distribution of water use for an average city (Shin, 2000, Table 3.4)
Category Average use Percent of total
Residential 260
Commercial 90
Industrial 190
Public 70
Loss 50
Total 660

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Water Demand (continued)

The distribution of average per capita rates among 292 water supply systems in
the U. S. that serve 95 million people is given in the table below.

Average distribution of per capita water demand (Shin, 2000, Table 3.5)
Range Number of Percent of total
(liters/day)/person systems
190-370 30 8
380-560 132 34
570-750 133 34
760-940 51 13
950-1130 19 5
>1140 27 7
Please note: these figures are based on 392 US water supply systems serving 95
million people (1984 Water Utility Operating Data, 1986 AWWA)

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Water Demand Projections

When planning for a water supply system, the water demand at the end of the
network design life is generally used as the basis for the project design. Because
the demand of the system 20 years in the future is not known, it is necessary to
make some kind of prediction or forecasting about the municipality growth. A
variety of Forecasting models exist, including:

• aggregate models - treat the population as a whole

• disaggregate models - break up the population into groups and predict the
growths of each group. An example of this is cohort analysis (Sykes 1995)
which segregates age and gender. These models require large quantities of
• empirical models - are based solely on data.

Please note that after 10 years, empirical models are as reliable as disaggregate

Population growth is not generally steady and tends to grow at varying rates.

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Geometric growth phase - occurs when there are wide open spaces and is
modelled with

Arithmetic growth phase - occurs after the initial growth has leveled off and
is modelled with

Declining growth phase - occurs when growth becomes limited by available


Each of the above phases is generally limited to 10 years in duration. For situa-
tions when a longer projection is required a long term projection can be approx-
imated with an S-curve (most common used is a logistic curve)

Please note, use existing data to determine a & b.

Please note, that for projections of less than 10 years a 10% error can be ex-
pected, but for projections greater than 20 years a 50% error can be expected.

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Demand Variations

The demand in a water distribution system varies, daily, weekly, seasonally, and
in the case of emergencies such as fires. Typical daily variations are given in the
below figure (Chin, Figure 3.23)

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The range of demand conditions are specified with peaking or demand factors.
An example of the demand factors is found in the below table (Chin, Table 3.6).

Condition Range of Typical

demand factors value
Daily average in maximum month 1.1-1.5
Daily average in maximum week 1.2-1.6
Maximum daily demand 1.5-3.0
Maximum hourly demand 2.0-4.0
Minimum hourly demand 0.2-0.6

In emergency situations as a result of fires the demand may increase significantly.

The most common method for estimating peak demands due to fires is a method
proposed by the Insurance Services Office (ISO, 1980). Their method estimates
the Needed Fire Flow, NFF, with

N F Fi = Ci Oi (X + P )i
C is the construction factor

O is the occupancy factor

X is the exposure factor

P is the proximity factor
i is the location where the flow is needed

The maximum needed fire flow is less than 45,000 L/min

Please see Chin for a more complete discussion of needed fire flows and the re-
quired coefficients

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Required fire flow durations to satisfy insurance requirements (Chin, Table 3.10)

Required fire flow Durations

(L/min) (hours)
<9,000 2
11,000-13,000 3
15,000-17,000 4
19,000-21,000 5
23,000-26,000 6
26,000-30,000 7
30,000-34,000 8
34,000-38,000 9
38,000-45,000 10

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A water-supply system is being designed to serve a population of 200,000 people,

with an average per capita demand of 600 L/day/person and a needed fire flow
of 28,000 L/min. If the water supply is to be drawn from a river, then what
should be the design capacity of the supply pumps and water treatment plant?
For what must be kept in the service reservoir to accommodate a fire? What
should the design capacity of the distribution pipes be?


a) find design capacity given:

b) determine required flow duration and volume

c) determine design capacity for pipes

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