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Thread: Operational Water Modelling

  1. #1

    Innovyze Employee

    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Operational Water Modelling

    Hello All,
    I've been thinking about Operational Water Modelling Systems (or "Live" systems) and it seems to me that there are many different ways these systems can be used.

    Examples I can think of include:

    • Reactive analysis of unusual system behavior (say bursts, or customers reporting low pressures/dirty water)
    • Proactive warning &/or management of undesirable levels of service in the system
    • Post incident analysis of what was done, and what could have been done
    • Balancing of storages within a system for 24 hours, a week, longer ?
    • Optimisation of energy/chemical/water sources
    • Longer term water supply source analysis - ie ordering water from a desalination plant, or estimating likely abstraction or snow melt yields

    I was interested in any feedback from people doing this type of modelling, and was hoping to start a global discussion group where we can share ideas ... Some of the questions I have are:

    • Are there scenarios I've missed ? I'm sure there is ...
    • What sort of time frames are you typically considering for say a burst or pressure complaint ?
    • Do you find that the systems typically recover quickly (in an hour or two, or does it take longer for operation to return to normal ?)
    • At what point does it change from a "just close the nearest valves" response to a "we need to model this in detail" ?
    • Is all operational modelling all done by control room operators, or are there hydraulic modellers involved in the analysis ?

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your ideas and experiences.

  2. #2
    Aloha Ann,

    We've been thinking about Operational Water Modeling systems also but currently do not have any. I like the list that you created it seems to be relatively complete. If I read between the lines I think it also includes pre and post source/transmission/tank outages as well as emergency planning.
    We've been working very closely with our operational group over the past year, making changes to the system. Other things I've heard from the operations group that they would like (and is related to your topic) is operator training. Something like a virtual "sandbox" so that the beginning operators can see what happens to the water system as they make changes to this "virtual" water system instead of the real thing. The only way I've thought that this could be done is an operational model.

  3. #3
    Pascal Lang
    Hello Tom/Ann,

    I have been lucky enough to work with IWLive with a variety of different clients in different geographies. Originally I thought that IWLive would only be used in a control room environment and only for early warnings and then responses to these warnings. Through working with clients the application of the tool has been taken far beyond this.

    1. Throughout almost all companies, within the control rooms there seems to be a real issue of experienced staff that know the systems well approaching retirement age. Whilst new operators have been recruited there is a real generation gap in most cases, I believe that this is also echoed by Toms reply. Compounding the experience disconnect is the relative rarity of events for operators to learn from. The fact that most would be gained during these events if both an experienced operator and a new operator are present at the same time also plays against the knowledge transfer capability.

    The beauty of operational modelling tools such as IWLive is that we can go back to any point in time and run a model from that date and time. This means that we can pick up on failures in the network at the start of a simulation and then see the effect this has on the network. Operators in training could then use IWLive to test various responses and analyse the impact of these, eventually doing a comparison with the actual response that was implemented at the time and seeing how these vary. IWLive gives the power to test out multiple scenarios and weigh options. One of the proposed procedure by a client has been to call in retired operators for one or two days to train staff, the retired staff devise scenarios (either ones that actually happened or could happen) and then allow the trainees to test their responses, providing guidance and tips along the way.

    This is just a brief description of how IWLive might be utilized for operator training.

    2. The second point that I wanted to put in this thread was that several people have talked about situations where control room staff have contacted the modelling team to get proposed responses to situations modelled. The modelling team would then get the latest version of the network in question, then update the starting point of this manually from telemetry, implement the controls/changes that operators were proposing, run the simulation and then report back to control room staff. In many cases the simulation results would not arrive in time for operators to take them into consideration. The time delay between the request being made and the results being provided would be too great and so often responses were already implemented.

    With IWLive there are several advantages compared to the above procedure, firstly the model is run at regular intervals so you know that it is an accurate representation of the network assets. Secondly the model is automatically updated from telemetry meaning that the current state is already present within the model. Thirdly the control changes can be implemented quickly via the IWLive interface, either from the control room or by a user somewhere else within the company, this could be a modeller. Once the simulation results have been produced they will be available to all users that have access to the IWLive system via an operator UI.

    Just wanted to add some information based on my experiences.


  4. #4

    Innovyze Employee

    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    For those interested in this topic a recent article in the Journal Opflow talks about how utilities are able to “Use Existing Technology to Build a Smart Water Network”. To read the complete article visit

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