The present work focuses on the planning of water distribution networks (WDNs). The research proposes an innovative strategy which aims at helping water managers formulate flexible investment plans while allowing for adaptive management under the increasing unawareness of medium–long term planning. This innovative strategy differs from existing strategies accounting for flexibility in WDN design. It allows for developing flexible investment plans without assuming that statistic or deterministic assumptions can account for all unawareness. The strategy introduces the key idea of technical contiguity of actions/solutions by post-processing a Pareto front obtained by a classic optimization technique in order to obtain sequential actions. This means retrieval of a set of ‘technically contiguous’ actions from the Paretian solutions, namely, by increasing the investment each action needs to contain the previous one. The application to the Apulian network allows discussion of the need for post-processing the Pareto front of solutions returned by the classic multi-objective design optimization and presenting the general strategy to obtain adaptive and flexible investment plans. We discuss further perspectives of the proposed strategy based on the integration of different flexible plans, each obtained with different assumptions, which could be statistic or deterministic, for the system boundary conditions.