Criticality analysis of water distribution pipelines

Kalyan R. Piratla, Samuel Ariaratnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


An approach to evaluate the relative criticality of different pipes in a water distribution system is presented. To quantify the relative criticality of pipelines, a term, relative criticality index (RCI), has been defined and measured. RCI was developed by summing up the effects of reliability, cost of break repairs, and energy required to repair breaks in pipelines. These three components have been quantified and added appropriately to obtain an overall criticality index of pipelines in water distribution systems. The model is demonstrated by using a 9.4-square-mile area of a water distribution system comprising downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The overall system availability of the selected land use is found to be 46.6%, and the relative criticality index clearly indicates that galvanized steel pipes followed by regular steel and ductile iron pipes in the system are most critical (i.e., vulnerable). The analysis also presents predicted future costs and energy requirements to repair breaks in the water distribution system for a 20-year analysis period. The results indicate that the expenditures to repair system breaks for the analysis period is estimated to be $17.1 million. The energy required to repair breaks during the same time frame would be 2,486 MW-h. A relative criticality index, along with future requirements of critical resources, should aid cities in better planning and management of their water distribution systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pipeline Systems Engineering and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 3 2011


  • Pipeline criticality
  • System reliability
  • Water distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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