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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-283
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 Jul 2018

Research article | 02 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Isotopic reconnaissance of urban water supply system dynamics

Yusuf Jameel1, Simon Brewer2, Richard P. Fiorella1, Brett J. Tipple3,4, Shazelle Terry5, and Gabriel J. Bowen1,3 Yusuf Jameel et al.
  • 1Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, 115 S 1460 E, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Utah, 332 S 1400 E, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA
  • 3Global Change and Sustainability Centre, University of Utah, 115 S 1460 E, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA
  • 4Department of Biology, University of Utah, 257 S 1400 E, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA
  • 5Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, 8215 S 1300 W, West Jordan, Utah 84088, USA

Abstract. Public water supply systems (PWSS) are critical infrastructure that are vulnerable to contamination and physical disruption. Exploring susceptibility of PWSS to such perturbations requires detailed knowledge of supply system structure and operation. The physical structure of the distribution system (i.e., pipeline connections) and basic information on sources are documented for most industrialized metropolises. Yet, most information on PWSS function comes from hydrodynamic models that are seldom validated using observational data. In developing regions, the issue may be exasperated as information regarding the physical structure of the PWSS may be incorrect, incomplete, undocumented, or difficult to obtain in many cities. Here, we present a novel application of stable isotopes in water (SIW) to quantify the contribution of different water sources, identify static and dynamic regions (e.g., regions supplied chiefly by one source vs. those experiencing active mixing between multiple sources), and reconstruct basic flow patterns in a large, complex PWSS. Our analysis, based on a Bayesian mixing model framework, uses basic information on the SIW and production volumes of sources but requires no information on pipeline connections in the system. Our work highlights the ability of SIW to analyze PWSS and document aspects of supply system structure and operation that can otherwise be challenging to observe. This method could allow water managers to document spatiotemporal variation in flow patterns within PWSS, validate hydrodynamic model results, track pathways of contaminant propagation, optimize water supply operation, and help monitor and enforce water rights.

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Short summary
Public water supply systems (PWSS) are important infrastructure susceptible to contamination and physical disruption. In general, PWSS are analyzed using hydrodynamic models which requires detailed supply infrastructure information. In this paper, we have shown that stable isotope mixing models can also provide useful information on PWSS. The method developed here can be useful in studying decentralized PWSS, validating hydrodynamic models and solving water right issues.
Public water supply systems (PWSS) are important infrastructure susceptible to contamination and...
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