Publications / Journal Article

Quantifying hydraulic and water quality uncertainty to inform sampling of drinking water distribution systems

Hart, David B.; Rodriguez, J.S.; Burkhardt, Jonathan; Borchers, Brian; Laird, Carl D.; Murray, Regan; Klise, Katherine A.; Haxton, Terranna

Sampling of drinking water distribution systems is performed to ensure good water quality and protect public health. Sampling also satisfies regulatory requirements and is done to respond to customer complaints or emergency situations. Water distribution system modeling techniques can be used to plan and inform sampling strategies. However, a high degree of accuracy and confidence in the hydraulic and water quality models is required to support real-time response. One source of error in these models is related to uncertainty in model input parameters. Effective characterization of these uncertainties and their effect on contaminant transport during a contamination incident is critical for providing confidence estimates in model-based design and evaluation of different sampling strategies. In this paper, the effects of uncertainty in customer demand, isolation valve status, bulk reaction rate coefficient, contaminant injection location, start time, duration, and rate on the size and location of the contaminant plume are quantified for two example water distribution systems. Results show that the most important parameter was the injection location. The size of the plume was also affected by the reaction rate coefficient, injection rate, and injection duration, whereas the exact location of the plume was additionally affected by the isolation valve status. Uncertainty quantification provides a more complete picture of how contaminants move within a water distribution system and more information when using modeling results to select sampling locations.