The emergence and evolution of reliability theory for water distribution networks

Seyed Ashkan Zarghami, Indra Gunawan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: As a response to the growing operational and disruptive threats to water distribution networks (WDNs), researchers have developed a vast array of methods for the reliability analysis of WDNs. In order to follow this growing number of methods, this paper reviews and documents in one place the historical developments in the reliability analysis of WDN. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review (SLR) is carried out to summarize the state-of-the-art research on reliability analysis of WDNs. In conducting this systemic literature review, the authors adopted an iterative approach to define appropriate keywords, analyze and synthesize data and finalizing the classification results. Findings: First, the hydraulic approach to reliability analysis is currently pervasive, and relatively little academic research has addressed the topological reliability analysis of WDNs. Second, in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the network reliability, a different approach that integrates topological and hydraulic attributes seems a more effective method. Third, the conventional reliability analysis methods are only effective for demonstrating a snapshot of these networks at a given point in time. The availability of methods that enable researchers to evaluate the reliability in response to changes in its variables is still a major challenge. Originality/value: The present paper facilitates future research in the reliability analysis of WDNs by providing a source of references for researchers and water utilities. Further, this article makes a contribution to the literature by offering a roadmap for future reliability analysis of WDNs by reviewing the evolution of the current reliability analysis methods throughout history.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBuilt Environment Project and Asset Management
Early online date24 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Nov 2020


  • Hydraulic analysis
  • Reliability
  • Systematic literature review
  • Topological analysis
  • Water distribution networks


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