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Drinking Water Engineering and Science An interactive open-access journal
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Volume 11, issue 1 | Copyright
Drink. Water Eng. Sci., 11, 49-65, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 May 2018

Research article | 02 May 2018

The effect of a loss of model structural detail due to network skeletonization on contamination warning system design: case studies

Michael J. Davis1 and Robert Janke2 Michael J. Davis and Robert Janke
  • 1Argonne Associate of Seville, Environmental Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois, USA
  • 2National Homeland Security Research Center, US Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Abstract. The effect of limitations in the structural detail available in a network model on contamination warning system (CWS) design was examined in case studies using the original and skeletonized network models for two water distribution systems (WDSs). The skeletonized models were used as proxies for incomplete network models. CWS designs were developed by optimizing sensor placements for worst-case and mean-case contamination events. Designs developed using the skeletonized network models were transplanted into the original network model for evaluation. CWS performance was defined as the number of people who ingest more than some quantity of a contaminant in tap water before the CWS detects the presence of contamination. Lack of structural detail in a network model can result in CWS designs that (1) provide considerably less protection against worst-case contamination events than that obtained when a more complete network model is available and (2) yield substantial underestimates of the consequences associated with a contamination event. Nevertheless, CWSs developed using skeletonized network models can provide useful reductions in consequences for contaminants whose effects are not localized near the injection location. Mean-case designs can yield worst-case performances similar to those for worst-case designs when there is uncertainty in the network model. Improvements in network models for WDSs have the potential to yield significant improvements in CWS designs as well as more realistic evaluations of those designs. Although such improvements would be expected to yield improved CWS performance, the expected improvements in CWS performance have not been quantified previously. The results presented here should be useful to those responsible for the design or implementation of CWSs, particularly managers and engineers in water utilities, and encourage the development of improved network models.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Public drinking water distribution systems can be contaminated. Sensors designed to detect contaminants can provide warning through the use of a contamination warning system (CWS). A properly designed CWS may help reduce the consequences associated with contamination events. Various factors can affect the performance of a CWS design, our paper focuses on the accuracy with which the network model of a distribution system represents the actual structural details of the water distribution network.
Public drinking water distribution systems can be contaminated. Sensors designed to detect...