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Design innovation leads to sustainable water distribution systems

Kalyan R. Piratla (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Samuel T. Ariaratnam (School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 5 July 2013




The purpose of this paper is to investigate design alternatives for pump‐included water distribution networks considering sustainability and reliability aspects. The aim is to demonstrate that CO2 emissions could be reduced at a reasonable cost. The paper also investigates the trade‐offs between cost and reliability of water distribution networks.


An existing genetic algorithm optimization tool is customized in this research to perform multi‐objective optimization with various objectives and constraints. The developed model is demonstrated using a benchmark water distribution network.


The results from this research suggest that CO2 emissions from water distribution networks could be reduced at a reasonable cost by choosing better objectives during the design stage. High system reliability could also be ensured for the lifetime by paying reasonable additional cost. This research presents various design alternatives for an engineer to choose from.

Research limitations/implications

The design of water distribution networks is a computationally complex process and often requires significant CPU time to arrive at an optimal solution. This problem is significant in the case of larger networks, especially when all the failed states need to be simulated. Simpler measures of reliability could be adopted in the future.


Although a significant amount of research had been undertaken in the area of optimal water distribution network design, only limited research includes environmental impacts as a design objective. This paper not only includes environmental aspects but also considers reliability. The model proposed in this research is a useful tool for engineers for considering various alternatives before choosing the best design.



Piratla, K.R. and Ariaratnam, S.T. (2013), "Design innovation leads to sustainable water distribution systems", Construction Innovation, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 302-319.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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