Impact of internal factors on malfunctions

Can malfunctions and/or repair work and pump operations lead to new malfunctions in the mains? This project will investigate this question by determining whether there is a statistical relationship between these factors or not. If there is a relationship of this kind and it proves to be relevant, then water utilities may be able to adapt their operations accordingly.

Statistically relevant relationship

Several water utilities have observed that malfunctions are more likely to occur near places where there has already been work on malfunctions. More malfunctions than usual also occur in the area during work of this kind. In addition, the timing of leaks sometimes seems to be related to pump operations. However, these observations are not underpinned with data.

The aim of this project is to investigate whether there is a statistically relevant relationship between previous malfunctions and/or repair work – for example, as a result of valve operations – or pump operations on the one hand and pipeline malfunctions on the other. The ‘Dynamic loads’ project that analyses pressure measurements is part of the joint research programme of the water utilities (BTO). The initial results and data from that project constitute the initial input for the present study.

Inventory and statistical analysis

The project includes a number of activities. Starting with an inventory of the available data about the relationship between malfunctions and previous malfunctions and/or repair work. Data about the relationship between malfunctions and pump operations are also being reviewed.

The project depends on the water utilities for data about repair work, malfunctions and pump operations. Some of these data are available in USTORE but other, or more detailed, data will also be needed.

After this inventory, an assessment will be made about whether the data are adequate for statistical analysis. The outcome may differ for the two relationships referred to above.

In consultation with the project group, the further research could take two directions. When data are found to be suitable, they will be used for the purposes of statistical analysis. If the data are not adequate, requirements will be drawn up that the data must meet in order to conduct a statistical analysis of the relationships. The findings will be set out in a report.

Operational adjustments

This project will lead to conclusions about the significance of the statistical relationship between malfunctions and previous malfunctions and/or repair work, and about the significance of the statistical relationship between malfunctions and pump operations.

If one or both relationships are indeed found to be statistically significant, water utilities can adjust their operations accordingly. In communications with commercial customers, water utilities can state that they will take this into account during water intake.