Vision and Future Overview

Urban water distribution systems around the world are becoming older and hence more prone to failure. Those parts of the system comprising large diameter pipes are especially critical since there are high risks and consequences of failure. When a critical pipe fails it is often spectacular and disruptive for the general public, but it also comes with very high capital, social, and environmental costs. Failure of critical water pipes is a global problem and represents a challenge for water authorities to the cost effective management of water pipe assets. Unlike failures in smaller reticulation pipes, there is little data available about failures in critical pipes, and conditions leading to failure are not well understood. Recognizing that solutions to problems in critical pipes can only be achieved through fundamental research, the partners in this project committed the investment in the research required.

In August 2011 international water research organisations, Australian water utilities and three Australian universities came together through a collaborative research agreement. This agreement provides for cash and in-kind funding of $13.4 million (including $5.9 million cash) over five years.

By August 2014 the project had delivered significant advances in knowledge about the failure of critical pipes, leading to the development of tools and process improvements for the water industry partners. Programs are in place to transfer these to the partners. Results of the research have also been published and are available on the Publications page.