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Distribution Systems Research

Image: Distribution systems pipe loop

All over the world, millions of miles of water distribution pipeline provide drinking water to individuals and industries. Water distribution systems are large networks of storage tanks, valves, pumps, and pipes that transport finished water to consumers. Finished water is water that has been treated and is ready for delivery. Because of system’s design, contamination can occur. EPA's research studies:

Corrosion in water distribution pipelines, valves, and fixtures can degrade our drinking water quality. EPA is gaining a better understanding of corrosion and its related reactions so that clean, fresh drinking water is delivered to you.

Distribution System Simulators (DSSs) help us evaluate and understand the dynamics within distribution pipelines. The DSS units imitate water flow conditions. They are located above ground to provide easy access to the entire pipe network. Scientists can study the physical, chemical, and biological activities that occur within pipelines.

EPANET, a Windows-based software, models water distribution piping systems. EPANET performs extended period simulation of the water movement and quality behavior within pressurized pipe networks.

Leak Detection and Back Flow is studied at another EPA water distribution test site.  This site has 2,500 feet of buried pipeline. These pipe loops tell us a lot about in-use water distribution systems. As water travels through distribution systems, it comes into contact with a wide range of materials. Some materials can change the water quality.

See Also

Aging Water Infrastructure is focusing on increasing the life of drinking water and wastewater systems. Researchers are determining the causes of system failures and finding ways to prevent future breakdowns. Aging water infrastructure is one of our Nation's top water priorities.

EPA's Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program developed testing protocols and verified the performance of technologies with the potential to improve the protection of our drinking water. ETV has verified monitoring and treatment technologies for drinking water distribution systems.

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