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Managing Peak Water Demand in Water Distribution Systems.

Jorge Pesantez, CSU Fresno

Shifting the time of peak demand in water distribution systems is a strategy that can help improve the efficiency and reliability of water supply. Peak demand typically occurs during the morning and evening hours when people are getting ready for work or school, or when they return home. Shifting the peak demand to other times of the day can help reduce stress on the water distribution system and increase the availability of water during periods of high demand. Residential water demands vary with a diurnal pattern, and peak hour demands lead to inefficiencies in the operation and management of urban water distribution systems. Peak hourly demands can generate immediate costs due to the energy requirements of producing and pumping large volumes of potable water. High peak demands can also lead to a need for large investments in infrastructure expansion to support urban growth and economic development.

Demand-side management approaches that seek to shift high hourly demands can be enabled through advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), which measures hourly or sub-hourly demands at the account-level. Feedback about hourly use can be used to encourage demand shifting behaviors, and a community of households that shift demands can distribute the volume of water provision evenly over the hours of a day and reduce peak demands. Demand management relies on the behaviors and decision-making of individuals, which creates unpredictability in the emergent costs savings and infrastructure impacts.

This research simulates a persuasive game to encourage cooperation and competition among water customers around demand-shifting. This research creates and models a leaderboard using an agent-based modeling approach. Household agents receive points for shifting end-uses, based on the difficulty and water savings associated with end-user behaviors. Opinion dynamics simulate agents’ information exchange using a leaderboard, which provides motivation for agents to increase individual ranking and scores. The project develops a demand management tool for water utilities to analyze the effectiveness of shifting the time of peak consumption improve the efficiency and reliability of water supply, reduce stress on infrastructure, and ensure that water is available when and where it is needed most.