Intermittent water supply (IWS) is widely used around the world, and with the increase in population and predicted future water scarcity, IWS applications seem to continue. While most of the existing studies on water supply concentrate on continuous water supply (CWS), the research focused on the IWS is now becoming mainstream. Hydraulic modelling is an effective tool for the process of planning, design, rehabilitation, and operation of water distribution systems. It helps significantly in engineers’ decision-making process. The necessity of modelling IWS systems arises from the complexity and variety of problems caused by intermittency. This paper offers a review of the state-of-the-art IWS modelling and identifies the key strengths and limitations of the available approaches, and points at potential research directions. Currently, neither computer software nor a practically used approach is available for modelling IWS. For a rigorous simulation of IWS, system characteristics first need to be understood, i.e., the user behaviour under pressure-deficient conditions, water losses, and filling and emptying processes. Each of them requires further attention and improvement. Additionally, the necessity of real data from IWSs is stressed. Accurate modelling will lead to the development of improved measures for the problems caused by intermittency.

  • Reviews are provided in intermittent water supply (IWS) hydraulic modelling approaches and pressure-driven analysis methods conducted to address pressure-deficient conditions.

  • The distinctiveness of IWS is highlighted as well as its adverse impacts, principally inequitable supply.

  • Challenges of modelling IWS are identified.

  • Each case study is unique, and uncertainties prevail around the practices of the IWS system.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

The first two authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY 4.0), which permits copying, adaptation and redistribution, provided the original work is properly cited (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).