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This paper is aimed at water and wastewater managers who are unsure why they should spend good money on network modeling. They have already invested in GIS and in SCADA; one or two engineers in the organisation are using network models, so why should they put further investment into a modeling system to be used for management information? This paper hopes to give the answers.

Managers are under increasing pressure to improve service levels and reduce costs for water distribution systems and for wastewater collection systems. They are looking for ways to improve both planning and operations of pipe, sewer and channel networks. Good management information is vital for that improvement, and the key information concerns performance.

Managers have to know how well their networks have performed in the past, how they are doing today, and whether they are up to the demands that will be put on them in the future. It is not good enough to know the condition of the assets. Managers have to know how well those networks supply water and collect wastewater under the full range of conditions, and they have to know what their options are for the future. So where are managers going to go for performance information?

GIS, SCADA and asset management systems all have a contribution. But there is one system that goes straight to the heart of questions of network performance, and that is the network modeling system. A network model is the best practical means of knowing how the network has performed, is performing and could perform in the future. Models give managers the information they need to make the right decisions to improve service levels and reduce costs, whether they are involved in long-term planning, or everyday operations.

In the past, software limitations restricted the use of modeling to engineering, but modern modeling systems allow models to contribute to water management in a wider way. Improvements include easy-to-use interfaces, multi-user operation, in-built data management and links with GIS, SCADA and desktop systems. Dynamic, detailed models can simulate performance over days or years of operation. Models can be kept up-to-date so modeling becomes a sustainable process.

It is hoped that this paper gives water and wastewater managers a new regard for network modeling and understanding of what it can do for them. They should be able to take this engineering tool and turn it into their most powerful management information system. Then they will be well on the way to their goal of improving service levels and reducing costs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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