The deterioration of water distribution systems and the subsequent need for major rehabilitation has provided researchers with a challenge: to seek new techniques to facilitate decision-making and assist network planners. Consequently, a range of methods have been developed, concerning several key performance indicators. Those with the greatest potential tend to promote a pro-active approach to pipeline rehabilitation, by predicting future performance of individual or groups of pipes. Such an approach is essential if cost-effective solutions are to be found.

Prediction models are based on indicators that are perceived to be the most appropriate for measuring and comparing an aspect of performance. The level of “appropriateness” is influenced not only by the availability of data and the ease at which it can be recorded, but also its accuracy and unambiguity. Consequently, indicators such as burst rates are widely used to assess structural performance. Ideally though, a more direct measure of the condition of a pipe could be used, such as its remaining wall thickness. This has previously been largely disregarded, due to the lack of appropriate (non-destructive) measurement technology. However, technological advances are being made to enable the inline monitoring of pipes and determination of deficiencies (particularly corrosion pits in cast iron pipes).

This paper illustrates how online condition monitoring of distribution pipelines can be combined with existing prediction models, to facilitate the decision-making process. Integration is achieved through the use of a Geographical Information System (GIS), which greatly enhances representation of spatial and temporal information.

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