Water distribution networks (WDNs) must keep a proper level of service under a wide range of operational conditions, and, in particular, the analysis of their resilience to pipe failures is essential to improve their design and management. WDNs can be regarded as large sparse planar graphs showing fractal and complex network properties. In this paper, the relationship linking the geometrical and topological features of a WDN to its resilience to the failure of a pipe is investigated. Some innovative indices have been borrowed from fractal geometry and complex network theory to study WDNs. Considering all possible network configurations obtained by suppressing one link, the proposed indices are used to quantify the impact of pipe failure on the system's resilience. This approach aims to identify critical links, in terms of resilience, with the help of topological metrics only, and without recourse to hydraulic simulations, which require complex calibration processes and come with a computational burden. It is concluded that the proposed procedure, which has been successfully tested on two real WDNs located in southern Italy, can provide valuable information to water utilities about which pipes have a significant role in network performance, thus helping in their design, planning and management.

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