The history of water distribution network analysis: The computer age

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Computation of flows and pressures in networks of pipes has been of great value and interest for those involved with the design, construction and maintenance of public water distribution systems. Many methods have been used in the past to compute flows in networks of pipes. Such methods range from graphical methods to the use of physical analogies and finally to the use of mathematical models. This paper will attempt to catalog and review those methods that have been developed and applied since the dawn of the "computer age" in 1957 when the original Hardy Cross method was first adapted for solution using a computer in analyzing the water distribution system of the city of Polo Alto, California. Subsequent methods have included the "simultaneous node: method, the "simultaneous loop" method, the "simultaneous pipe" method, and the "simultaneous network" method. A brief review of the theoretical framework of each method will be presented along with a critique of the relative advantages and/or limitations of each method. With the advent of computer models of water distributions systems, it has now become possible to analyze more complex network components (e.g. pumps, tanks, PRVs, etc) of the water distribution system as well as to investigate more complex issues associated with their design and operation. Such additional applications have included 1) extend period simulations, 2) transient analysis, 3) water quality analysis, 4) optimal model calibration and design, 5) optimal operations, 6) optimal sampling plans, etc. The utility and feasibility of these additional types of applications can be demonstrated to be largely dependent upon the underlying simulation methods that were first developed beginning in the early 1960s. Copyright ASCE 2006.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
StatePublished - 2007
Event8th Annual Water Distribution Systems Analysis Symposium 2006 - Cincinnati, OH, United States
Duration: Aug 27 2006Aug 30 2006


Conference8th Annual Water Distribution Systems Analysis Symposium 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCincinnati, OH


  • History
  • Mathematical algorithms
  • Water distribution models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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