Abstract

Nowadays, a large number of water utilities still manage their operation on the instant water demand of the network, meaning that the use of the equipment is conditioned by the immediate water necessity. The water reservoirs of the networks are filled using pumps that start working when the water level reaches a specified minimum, stopping when it reaches a maximum level. Shifting the focus to water management based on future demand allows use of the equipment when energy is cheaper, taking advantage of the electricity tariff in action, thus bringing significant financial savings over time. Short-term water demand forecasting is a crucial step to support decision making regarding the equipment operation management. For this purpose, forecasting methodologies are analyzed and implemented. Several machine learning methods, such as neural networks, random forests, support vector machines and k-nearest neighbors, are evaluated using real data from two Portuguese water utilities. Moreover, the influence of factors such as weather, seasonality, amount of data used in training and forecast window is also analysed. A weighted parallel strategy that gathers the advantages of the different machine learning techniques is suggested. The results are validated and compared with those achieved by autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) also using benchmarks.

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