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Drinking Water Distribution System Research Paper


In human history, the ability to provide a sufficient amount of water while the latter is of appropriate quality always has been one of the most important issues. Even the most ancient societies were organized near water sources. With time, the challenge also developed because our population grew constantly. This led to a situation where people started transporting water from other locations to theirs. One of the most vivid examples are the Romans who constructed aqueducts with the intention of transferring water to their land from distant locations.

Nowadays, a water supply system can be regarded to as a complex infrastructure that is developed to make sure that there are proper strategies applied to the processes of collecting, storing, and distributing water between its direct consumers. Currently, natural water resources become more and more limited, and this hints at the fact that there should also be innovative methods to manage water supplies (Douterelo et al., 2014).

If we are talking about both potable and nonpotable usage of water, reclaimed water is one of the most widely used water sources. Water distribution systems become more complex because it is necessary to allocate the flow and implement conservation practices that would be beneficial to each of the end users. Therefore, there are both present and future requirements that have to be followed in order to ensure that the complexity of water distribution systems is mitigated by new water sources and technical innovations.

We have to react to these changes if we want to keep on growing. Currently, the developers of water supply systems pay close attention to sustainable water supplies. At the very beginning of this stage, the developers found that the intricacy of the developed systems was dependent on the location of the application. At the moment, existing water supply systems are strained by an increased water demand. It is also stated that humans need a more reliable system so as to come up with a generalized water supply approach that could be relevant on a long-term scale.

It is also believed that we should optimize the construction of water distribution systems and mitigate the costs of the latter. Within the framework of the current research paper, the investigator will review the existing state of affairs in order to produce a number of recommendations concerning the safety of drinking water distribution systems and draw conclusions on the basis of the obtained information. This will be done to ensure that the most critical challenges of water distribution systems are addressed, and a long-term plan involving these recommendations would be reliable and sustainable.


Considering the idea that there are several challenges that can be associated with drinking water distribution systems, it may be safe to say that research on emergency responses in terms of water distribution could be beneficial. The background of this research project is based on the idea that emergency response decisions should be made with regard to the challenges that are typical of any given water distribution system (Chowdhury, 2012). Currently, we do not have enough information about the processes of water contamination and emergency management. At the same time, the size of these threats grows annually, and the magnitude of their impact becomes more and more blurry.

Drinking water distribution systems can be perceived as a kind of response to an increased importance of the concept of public health protection. At the same time, we should realize how powerful the impact of a water distribution infrastructure could be. From the early stages of the development of such systems, there is a necessity to address the challenges and develop a multifaceted plan that will be based on the idea of protecting public health from the identified threats (Chowdhury, 2012).

The background of this study also revolves around the idea that a good drinking water distribution system should minimize the chances of humans being exposed to contamination and other health impacts. Even though timely emergency decisions may not be available to humans at the moment, there is a chance to use a model that is based on a single objective. There is a rather small number of research projects dwelling on this topic, and this may be the main reason for further research in the area.

The rationale for this is the lack of emergency responses available to humans. Previous studies took into consideration numerous operational actions as a part of emergency response, but there are still limitations in terms of optimization of drinking water distribution systems (Chowdhury, 2012). The background of this study also revolves around the idea that the impact of any water distribution system on human health may be critical. In this context, there is a need to conduct more research projects that would give us the possibility to generate the optimal emergency response with the use of available resources while adhering to the key two criteria – public health and the number of service interruptions.

We should address these questions and come up with a number of recommendations in order to make sure that as many scenarios as possible (emergency and non-emergency) are covered in high detail. This kind of approach will ensure that each system functions on the basis of operational rules that optimize the system and increase its sensitivity in terms of identifying threats and effectively responding to them. Knowing that public health and service interruptions are the two main criteria for a good drinking water distribution system, we should recurrently examine the development model of our distribution systems in order to be able to increase their performance (Chowdhury, 2012).

Considering the level of interconnectedness between all the elements of a complex drinking water distribution system, it is vital to connect this research to real-life examples that either negatively or positively contributed to research on drinking water distribution systems.


Within the framework of the current research project, the investigator conducted an extensive literature review. This was done to investigate the existing data on the subject and outline a number of recommendations that would be beneficial to even the most distant locations. The main requirement of this literature review was the use of journal articles from the last five years. By doing this, the researcher ensured that only the most recent and relevant information was used to formulate the discussion and recommendations for drinking water distribution systems. Overall, literature review was identified as the best option for this research because it revealed a number of important points relating to the safety of drinking water distribution systems that will be discussed in the next section of the paper.


As it was identified from the literature, the development of a decent drinking water distribution system should be based on water quality information and certain indicators associated with performance (Chowdhury, 2012). One of the key vulnerabilities that were identified as crucial was the process of risk assessment of vulnerabilities in drinking water distribution systems. For example, throughout the process of water roaming through the pipe network, the quality of the latter may deteriorate regardless of the treatment. The researcher also found a number of other factors that critically influence the quality of transmitted water. These include

  1. the quality of the source water from both chemical and biological points of view,
  2. the effectiveness of the treatment process,
  3. veracity of the treatment plant,
  4. design of the distribution network,
  5. the time period of water traveling from the spring to consumers’ taps,
  6. water pressure,
  7. the presence of hydraulic conditions such as mixing of water from various sources (Douterelo, Sharpe, & Boxall, 2013).

The quality of water should be controlled because it might adversely impact the end users. This situation will be avoided if the developers collect necessary information and pay close attention to the procedure of water transmission. Developers have to make the best use of the information regarding

  1. pipe material,
  2. pipe leakage data, and its breakage history,
  3. the amount of non-revenue water and intermittency of supply,
  4. environmental parameters such as traffic or workmanship (Douterelo et al., 2013).

There are also several additional points that could be addressed to improve the quality of drinking water distribution systems such as customer complaints and information regarding water quality (source condition, after-treatment condition, local condition). Any efficient system should be connected to a map that would display drainages and sewer networks. The developers have to make sure that they know everything about solid waste dumping points and illegal pumping. If they do not want to increase the chances of being affected by vulnerabilities, they will have to address three types of parameters at the same time – physical (for instance, pipe material), operational (for example, intermittency of supply), and environmental (for instance, traffic) (Douterelo et al., 2013).

One of the main hazards typical of water distribution systems is the soil near open sewer crossings. The latter critically increases the chances of contamination and can be considered to be one of the main vulnerabilities of any given water distribution systems. In order to be able to deal with these issues, it may be necessary to come up with certain performance indicators (such as water pressure, per capita supply, and the type of supply) to monitor the performance of these systems. Distribution systems can also be seriously affected by the time taken to travel from source to the taps because water quality may deteriorate significantly.

When designing a drinking water distribution system, the developers have to pay close attention to hydraulic parameters as well so as to associate the system design with overall water demand. Even excessive capacities can significantly contribute to the development of issues that would put a strain on the ability to follow essential emergency requirements (Douterelo et al., 2013). There are numerous characteristics that have to addressed simultaneously in order to ensure the development of a high-quality drinking water distribution system. Nonetheless, this list of characteristics cannot be generalized and has to be custom-designed for each water distribution system at hand.


There are numerous ways to contaminate the water. Some of the most prevalent situations include contamination through external sources such as intrusion and cross connection. Nonetheless, there are also internal processes that can also adversely impact the functioning of water distribution systems and reduce the quality of water. The degradation of water quality may be subject to reactive pipe materials, the volume ratio of pipe surfaces, and other bulk reactions that may deteriorate the transported water. Consequently, the water that left the treatment plant may reach the consumer in a whole different state.

The recommendations provided within this subsection of the research project will be revolving around the processes of maintaining water quality in drinking water distribution systems and successfully overcoming the challenges associated with the complexity of distribution systems. From the literature, it was identified that event the type and concentration of sanitizers may have a severe impact on the overall state of a drinking water distribution system.

The same is true for operational practices such as flushing and corrosion control schemes. The developers should always be alert when choosing specific materials for pipes and evaluating the biological stability of drinking water that is intended to reach the consumers’ taps. The process of improving water quality by means of a correctly designed distribution system may be reasonably easy, but it can also be immensely problematic. The first recommendation is to adjust the quality of treated water to the minimal worsening of water quality (Wang, Hu, Hu, Yang, & Qu, 2012).

This should be done prior to distribution. For instance, if the developers are keen on minimizing internal corrosion and the formation of colored water, they have to use phosphate inhibitors and pay close attention to the levels of pH and alkalinity. Moreover, the concentration of aluminum in filtered water should be directly related to the coagulation with aluminum salts. This will reduce the amount of aluminum transferred through the distribution system.

The developers should also remove organic carbon in order to ensure that biological stability of water is increased. It will have a positive impact on the process of sustaining the quality of water throughout the whole path from the treatment plant to end users. Nonetheless, any chemical adjustments should always be taken into consideration because they may influence the biological stability of the water. Another recommendation is to maintain water quality by means of the best practices available before better monitoring approaches are developed (Lautenschlager et al., 2013).

The developers should be on the lookout for new standards for materials so as to make sure that the impact of these materials on water quality is solely positive. Evidently, all the materials that are currently used by developers are known to handle severe pressure and stress. Nonetheless, the process of testing these materials should be expanded. The researcher recommends to include the tests for probable pervasion of contaminants and the probability of leakage of compounds that can have an impact on public health (these may also include the mixtures that contribute to biofilm growth and the advent of water odors and tastes) (Liu, Verberk, & Van Dijk, 2013).

When these tests are completed, their results should be included in the standards of development quality of drinking water distribution systems. We should be concerned with the possibilities to minimize the deterioration of water quality. Humans should also come up with new materials that would do less damage to the quality of drinking water. Some of the current concerns include a high concentration of unwanted deposits and metals that followed pipe corrosion. Further research in the area should concentrate on the ways to protect disinfectants that may be destroyed during water interactions with pipe materials.


Within the framework of the current research project, the investigator showed that the process of development of a drinking water distribution system is a rather important process and it has to be approached with a great deal of seriousness. The formulation of an optimal response to hazards is directly connected to the quality of health and the chances of drinking water to impact human health in the area. Optimal response protocols should be built with regard to the structure of water distribution systems.

The author of the research project may conclude that in order to understand the threshold, the development team should sensibly approach the impact of drinking water on the number of sicknesses in the area and align these numbers against an accurate threshold. Within the framework of this paper, the researcher produced a number of recommendations based on the reviewed literature and concluded that they should be followed if the creation of an effective emergency response is necessary. In other words, the author suggests that the quantification of health impacts is necessary because an optimal response plan is based on specific contamination scenarios.

Only by including different types of contaminants in the water distribution system development equation, we will be able to take care of such hazards as poisoning, exposure to toxins, and even deaths. Therefore, we need to run recurrent optimization in order to make sure that the occurrence of adverse health outcomes tends to zero. The researcher believes that it is important to come up with a multifaceted, integrated response if the team is willing to develop a safe, contamination-free drinking water distribution system.

This will also lead to an effective reduction of contamination impacts on human health. Future research projects have to concentrate more on the development of a systematic approach to the processes of automatization and advancement of optimal response protocols. It will be necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of combined efforts as well (such as hydrants operation in addition to public warnings conveyed by means of mass media). The key idea behind the creation of a decent drinking water distribution system is the willingness to protect public health. The best way to do this is to develop a comprehensive response plan that includes numerous response strategies.

Even though the state of health in the area can be sustained by means of a decent response strategy, a constant exposure to contamination and discharge operations can significantly impact the level of performance, and the latter will worsen exponentially. We have to be rather watchful if we want to apply optimization schemes to emergency scenarios directly. We should always update our response protocols in order to make sure that the drinking water distribution system is in the best shape possible. These optimal responses will be used to cover each of the contamination scenarios outlined by the developers that are associated with health threats.

It is necessary to pay close attention to the options that allow us to do real-time analyses of the identified scenarios and create specific patterns that can be used throughout the whole optimization process. Basically, the developers have to adapt to the emergent settings of the modern world and produce their best efforts in order to come up with dynamic versions of drinking water distribution systems that would minimize the chances of contamination and maximize the possibility to respond to numerous threats at the same time.


Chowdhury, S. (2012). Heterotrophic bacteria in drinking water distribution system: A review. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184(10), 6087-6137.

Douterelo, I., Boxall, J. B., Deines, P., Sekar, R., Fish, K. E., & Biggs, C. A. (2014). Methodological approaches for studying the microbial ecology of drinking water distribution systems. Water Research, 65, 134-156.

Douterelo, I., Sharpe, R. L., & Boxall, J. B. (2013). Influence of hydraulic regimes on bacterial community structure and composition in an experimental drinking water distribution system. Water Research, 47(2), 503-516.

Lautenschlager, K., Hwang, C., Liu, W. T., Boon, N., Koster, O., Vrouwenvelder, H.,… Hammes, F. (2013). A microbiology-based multi-parametric approach towards assessing biological stability in drinking water distribution networks. Water Research, 47(9), 3015-3025.

Liu, G., Verberk, J. Q., & Van Dijk, J. C. (2013). Bacteriology of drinking water distribution systems: An integral and multidimensional review. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 97(21), 9265-9276.

Wang, H., Hu, C., Hu, X., Yang, M., & Qu, J. (2012). Effects of disinfectant and biofilm on the corrosion of cast iron pipes in a reclaimed water distribution system. Water Research, 46(4), 1070-1078.

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