There is increasing pressure from financial and quality regulators both to reduce costs and to improve levels of service within the water industry. It is possible to reduce costs to some extent without affecting levels of service unduly. However, there comes a time when further reductions have a major impact on the reliability of the treatment process and the reductions are no longer cost-effective.

On examination, it is typical to find that the overall risk of treatment failure is dominated by a small number of significant problem areas or pinch-points within a system. Removal of these pinch-points through design or operational changes will lead to improvements in levels of service. Alternatively, if the pinch-points dominate the risk and cannot be removed cost-effectively, there is little point in over-protecting other areas through the inclusion of standby equipment or with unjustified levels of maintenance. Thus costs in these areas can be cut back without unduly increasing the overall risk of failure.

This paper shows how risk analysis can be used to identify those areas of a system that dominate its risk of failure. This allows its design and operation to be optimised, thereby enabling levels of service to be met at minimum cost.

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