Resilience of distribution systems under crisis scenarios

Ina Vertommen MSc, Peter van Thienen PhD, Karel van Laarhoven PhD MSc, Mirjam Blokker PhD, Christos Makropoulos Meng DIC MSc PhD FRGS FHEA

  • Start date
    01 May 2018
  • End date
    31 Dec 2018
  • Principal
    Verkennend Onderzoek
  • collaborating partners

This exploratory research project is producing an inventory of the possible physical and cyber threats (crisis scenarios) that present a potential danger to the proper functioning of drinking water distribution systems. We are developing a methodology and a tool (Gondwana) to quantify and numerically optimise the resilience of these systems under such crisis scenarios.

Inventory of threats

A properly functioning drinking water distribution system is not self-evident.  Our drinking water is exposed to a range of dangers, from flooding and cyberattacks to contamination. This project is inventorying the threats involved, and developing a practical means of making current and future infrastructures as resilient as possible to them.

Identifying the right indicators

The quantification of the resilience of a distribution system requires the identification of the right indicators. To this end, the project employs resilience indexes, which quantify the effect of physical threats such as pipe fractures. The team is working closely with the French research institute, IRSTEA, which has extensive experience in the area. The indicators are being implemented in Gondwana, an optimisation platform for distribution systems. The program enables the detailed analysis of entire systems – including individual mains, valves, etc. – and the optimisation of the resilience of these systems.

The benefits of Gondwana

By using Gondwana, water companies can test the resilience of their current distribution systems under different crisis scenarios. As a complement to conventional methods, Gondwana thus also makes it possible to identify sensitive areas. With regard to the design of new infrastructures, the method and tool will offer a valuable performance indicator. A system can thus be (automatically) adjusted so as to maximise its resilience. At the same time, Gondwana makes it possible to optimise several objectives; this is expressed in a series of different designs. Costs can therefore be weighed against resilience to determine the optimal solution. Based on quantitative analysis, Gondwana enables robust decision-making.