Cranfield to research resilience of water networks

March 10, 2009
Cranfield University's Centre for Water Science has been awarded £80k to identify opportunities to enhance the resilience of water networks. Dr. Paul Jeffery won the two-year funding from the Leverhulme Trust. The trust supports original research and education projects which cross disciplinary boundaries and demonstrate an appropriate balance of risk and reward...

BEDFORDSHIRE, UK, Mar. 6, 2009 -- Cranfield University's Centre for Water Science has been awarded £80k to identify opportunities to enhance the resilience of water networks. Dr. Paul Jeffery won the two-year funding from the Leverhulme Trust. The trust supports original research and education projects which cross disciplinary boundaries and demonstrate an appropriate balance of risk and reward.

As climate change and rapidly changing demand patterns challenge, the ability of the water supply infrastructure to meet existing high performance levels, increasing pressure is put on water service providers to maintain service quality, as well as ensuring sustainable use of resources.

The degree to which the network of pipes, pumps and treatment works is able to continue providing an efficient service when parts of it are damaged or off-line has therefore become a major concern for engineers and system managers.

Using a particular branch of discrete mathematics called graph theory, networks can be represented as a series of nodes and connections and measures developed to describe both network structure and network performance under changing circumstances. The project will evaluate the potential usefulness of graph theory for exploring network resilience and enhance knowledge of infrastructure robustness and vulnerability to help the water sector design and operate more resilient networks.

Dr. Jeffery said: "To date, regulations and budgetary constraints have eroded investment in high risk/high reward research in the water sector leading to little activity in emerging areas of adventurous but potentially valuable science. This project will both scope potential and generate new tools for water managers as well as set a research agenda on network robustness in the water sector for the next decade, helping researchers in the UK and beyond focus effort and resources, and improving the efficiency of future funding in the area. The outputs will also inform contemporary work on risk management strategies in other fields."

Dr. Jeffery is now looking to secure additional funding to support the work over the coming months.

Cranfield University is a wholly postgraduate institution with a worldwide reputation for excellence and expertise in aerospace, automotive, defence, engineering, environment and water, health, management and manufacturing. The University is made up of the following Schools: Cranfield Health, School of Management, School of Applied Sciences, School of Engineering, and Cranfield Defence and Security at Shrivenham.

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