Publications / SAND Report

Physical Modeling of Scaled Water Distribution System Networks

O'Hern, Timothy J.; Hammond, Glenn E.; Orear, Leslie O.; van Bloemen Waanders, Bart G.

Threats to water distribution systems include release of contaminants and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. A better understanding, and validated computational models, of the flow in water distribution systems would enable determination of sensor placement in real water distribution networks, allow source identification, and guide mitigation/minimization efforts. Validation data are needed to evaluate numerical models of network operations. Some data can be acquired in real-world tests, but these are limited by 1) unknown demand, 2) lack of repeatability, 3) too many sources of uncertainty (demand, friction factors, etc.), and 4) expense. In addition, real-world tests have limited numbers of network access points. A scale-model water distribution system was fabricated, and validation data were acquired over a range of flow (demand) conditions. Standard operating variables included system layout, demand at various nodes in the system, and pressure drop across various pipe sections. In addition, the location of contaminant (salt or dye) introduction was varied. Measurements of pressure, flowrate, and concentration at a large number of points, and overall visualization of dye transport through the flow network were completed. Scale-up issues that that were incorporated in the experiment design include Reynolds number, pressure drop across nodes, and pipe friction and roughness. The scale was chosen to be 20:1, so the 10 inch main was modeled with a 0.5 inch pipe in the physical model. Controlled validation tracer tests were run to provide validation to flow and transport models, especially of the degree of mixing at pipe junctions. Results of the pipe mixing experiments showed large deviations from predicted behavior and these have a large impact on standard network operations models.3