A spatial decision support system for pipe-break susceptibility analysis of municipal water distribution systems
Municipal water distribution maintenance is very important for sustainable urban development. Water pipe-breaks result not only in disrupting service but also in significant loss of water, which otherwise could have been sold to the consumer. In countries where water is scarce, such as South Africa, water losses can be detrimental to the living standard of people. Water pipe-breaks can furthermore cause extensive damage to nearby lower-lying properties. Existing decision support systems available in the field of water distribution system maintenance mainly focus on leak detection and pipe rehabilitation/ replacement strategies. These existing systems, however, do not address the actual causes of pipe-breaks. This paper reports on the development of a spatial decision support system (SDSS) for pipe-break susceptibility analysis. The engineer (or public works administrator) can apply the SDSS to model the complex pipe-break phenomena in a municipal water distribution system in order to identify pipes susceptible to breaking. This should promote more informed decision-making on preventative maintenance measures to be taken and their prioritisation. The SDSS has already been successfully applied to the water distribution system of Paarl (a medium-sized town in South Africa).