Drinking Water Networks: Water Quality Monitoring by Online Scans
Author: Amani ABDALLAH



1. General: 

The capacity to identify and act on water quality changes is a key element for the protection of drinking water networks against intentional and accidental contaminations. Monitoring the process of water treatment and waste treatment plants allows for monitoring water effectively as it exits the plants.

Water quality monitoring in distribution networks is more difficult, because of the complexity and size of the networks. This type of monitoring does not allow identifying accidental pollutions that can have serious consequences on public health. This is why public authorities and water utilities are interested in research and development on methods that will be able to identify real time accidental pollutions in the framework of early warning systems. The first priority for the early identification system is to identify contaminations efficiently in order to protect people and infrastructures (Kroll and King 2010).

These past few years, a wide range of sensors incorporated in early warning systems have been developed to continuously identify events related to security and the quality of water supply systems. An early warning system is not limited to a collection of monitoring technologies. It forms an incorporated system to deploy technology for: (i) monitoring; (ii) analysis; (iii) interpretation and communication of results; and (iv) using results to make decisions on public health protection while minimizing unnecessary community concerns.

Continuous monitoring of water quality would allow network users to respond quickly to bio-contamination. Water quality monitoring systems are developing quickly. The performance of these new technologies in water treatment plants is different from the ones in water distribution networks. Therefore, it is essential to analyze these technologies’ performance in real conditions. This is the objective of this thesis.

2. Issues and Objectives
This thesis was carried out in the framework of the Sunrise Project « Demonstrator of Smart and Sustainable City » and the European project SmartWater4Europe. It aims to evaluate the performance of scans designed for water quality monitoring. This includes several aspects:

  • Observing changes in water quality parameters in responding to an accidental or intentional contamination event;
  • Analyzing the identification of a contamination event by contamination warning system tools
  • Distinguishing the difference between a real contamination event and normal variation of water quality;
  • Investigating the monitoring system’s tools’ capacities and precisions to identify at pilot scale;
  • Supply advice to water industry on the use and precision of contamination alarm systems and their application in the identification of contamination events.

In this context, we have built a 61m long drinking water mini-network (pilot) that reproduces real functioning conditions of a water distribution network (material, running and pressure speed). This pilot was used to evaluate the performance of systems in identifying chemical and biological accidental contamination.