Underground water infrastructure is designed to withstand a variability of forces during its lifetime before failure occurs. As a result of variations in loads on and deterioration of the pipe, early failures may occur. Climate change may accelerate or decelerate these processes. A statistical analysis is therefore performed to study correlations between weather parameters and pipe failure rates in the drinking water distribution systems (DWDS) of the Netherlands. The strongest correlations were found between pipe failure rates and temperature. Failure rates in asbestos cement (AC) and small diameter steel pipes increase during warm periods, which often also show higher water consumptions . For cast iron (CI) pipes, failure rates increase at low temperatures. Drought parameters have a smaller effect on pipe failure rates than temperature, but still an increase in pipe failure rates was observed during dry periods for AC and small diameter steel pipes. No effect of weather conditions on pipe failure is observed for PVC and PE pipes. Using the statistical relations between pipe failure frequencies and weather conditions, a methodology is proposed to assess the effect of climate change on the integrity of DWDSs. This results in an insightful representation of the vulnerability of existing and future DWDSs towards climate change. This analysis can be conducted for any DWDS, for which historical failure registrations and weather parameters are available. The proposed methodology can therefore assist in the construction and maintenance planning of DWDSs. The methodology has applied to the combined Dutch drinking water distribution networks. The results show how failure rates in networks with a significant proportion of AC will increase as a result of expected climate change in the Netherlands, whereas failure rates in networks with high proportions of PVC and CI are expected to decrease slightly.
Wols, Bas and van Thienen, Peter, "Predicting The Impact Of Climate Change On Pipe Failure In Drinking Water Distribution Systems." (2014). CUNY Academic Works.