Assessing the global resilience of water quality sensor placement strategies within water distribution systems

Qingzhou Zhang, Feifei Zheng*, Zoran Kapelan, Dragan Savic, Guilin He, Yiyi Ma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Water quality sensors are often spatially distributed in water distribution systems (WDSs) to detect contamination events and monitor quality parameters (e.g., chlorine residual levels), thereby ensuring safety of a WDS. The performance of a water quality sensor placement strategy (WQSPS) is not only affected by sensor spatial deployment that has been extensively analyzed in literature, but also by possible sensor failures that have been rarely explored so far. However, enumerating all possible sensor failure scenarios is computationally infeasible for a WQSPS with a large number of sensors. To this end, this paper proposes an evolutionary algorithm (EA) based method to systematically and efficiently investigate the WQSPS′ global resilience considering all likely sensor failures. First, new metrics are developed in the proposed method to assess the global resilience of a WQSPS. This is followed by a proposal of an efficient optimization approach based on an EA to identify the values of global resilience metrics. Finally, the sensors within the WQSPS are ranked to identify their relative importance in maintaining the WQSPS's detection performance. Two real-world WDSs with four WQSPSs for each case study are used to demonstrate the utility of the proposed method. Results show that: (i) compared to the traditional global resilience analysis method, the proposed EA-based approach identifies improved values of global resilience metrics, (ii) the WQSPSs that deploy sensors close to large demand users are overall more resilient in handling sensor failures relative to other design solutions, thus offering important insight to facilitate the selection of WQSPSs, and (iii) sensor rankings based on the global resilience can identify those sensors whose failure would significantly reduce the WQSPS's performance thereby providing guidance to enable effective water quality sensor management and maintenance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115527
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Accepted author manuscript


  • Contamination intrusion
  • Global resilience
  • Water distribution system
  • Water quality sensor placement strategy


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