Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019DC046B

Resilience-Based Water Infrastructure Rehabilitation Planning in the District of Columbia

Institute: District of Columbia
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-03-01 End Date: 2020-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $20,000

Principal Investigators: Dr. Zeinab Farahmandfar

Abstract: Water supply systems (WSSs) are among the most critical set of lifeline infrastructures (US DHS, 2015), and their continuous functioning is paramount to human survival and economic prosperity. However, majority of the WSSs in the United States are currently threatened by the deteriorating pipeline infrastructure that is leading to increased number of water main breaks and leakage (ASCE, 2013). The deterioration trends of drinking water pipeline infrastructure in the U.S. is primarily attributed to lack of adequate investment made into the maintenance and capital improvement over the past several decades (ASCE, 2013). Furthermore, WSSs are threatened by external stressors that arise from the nature such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Moreover, population growth will increase the demand for water, placing further stress on an already burdened system. It is imperative that WSSs withstand such stressors to the maximum extent possible and continue to function at reasonable service levels. Such capability is often referred to as the resilience of the system. Water utility owners must evaluate the resilience of their system in the face of natural hazards and prevailing deterioration trends to determine optimal capital improvement actions. Furthermore, the cost of water infrastructure rehabilitation far exceeds the financial capabilities of many local water utilities (US EPA, 2011). Consequently, it is imperative to employ optimization-based rehabilitation planning frameworks that will appropriately integrate resilience with system-related uncertainties that stem from material deterioration and/or random component failures to be able to identify optimal capital improvement strategies. In an attempt to address this gap in the body of knowledge, this study attempts to develop and demonstrate a quantitative approach that can be used by utility managers and system engineers for rehabilitation planning of WSSs with the objective of enhancing the system resilience to both natural hazards and pipeline deterioration. This interdisciplinary research, addressing decision making and information technology use in WSS resilience, is being carried out as a precursor to a longer-term research effort. By conducting this preliminary study, we aim to delineate and prioritize decision and information requirements based on their relevance to practicing managers the DC Water. The specific objectives of this research are: • Identification of different vulnerabilities (natural hazards) to the water system; • Identification of gaps in the information gathering and sharing framework; • Identification of gaps in the decision making framework as it currently exists; • Development of a decision-making architecture that is useful to water utility operators in urban areas for capital improvement planning • Development of a transferable computer code in the form of user-friendly software package that integrates network solvers with optimization algorithms in MATLAB programming interface that can be extended to include other hazards in the future.