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2010-01-15 | Peer Reviewed

Identifying sets of key nodes in dynamic water distribution networks

Xu, Jianhua, Paul Fischbeck, Jeanne VanBriesen, Elizabeth Casman and Mitchell small. 2008. “Identifying sets of key nodes in dynamic water distribution networks.” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 134:4: 378-385.
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The design of a sensor-placement scheme capable of detecting all possible contamination events for a water distribution system before consumers are put at risk is essentially impossible given current technologies and budgets.

It is, however, possible to design sensor-placement schemes that optimize related objectives (e.g., minimize expected volume of contaminated water consumed prior to detection), but this requires the availability of hydraulic and water quality models for the distribution network and significant computational power, which are the main obstacles to the identification of optimal sensor locations. This paper describes a different approach that reduces the problem’s complexity by expressing a water distribution system as different graphs based on the information readily available from most, if not all, water utilities. The approach provides critical policy and decision support for utilities when hydraulic and water quality models are not available and/or when simulation-based techniques are computationally infeasible.


  • Xu, Jianhua
  • Other authors:
    Fischbeck, Paul
    VanBriesen, Jeanne
    Casman, Elizabeth
    small, Mitchell