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Hydraulic Management of Water Distribution Systems Laboratory

The main objective of the research conducted at the Hydraulic Management of Water Distribution Systems Laboratory is to develop tools to improve their management, for example, to react quickly in the event of potential contamination or to minimize water losses.

The Hydraulic Management of Water Distribution Systems Laboratory, consisting of a physical model of a municipal water distribution system, is designed to improve system management.

The research facility replicates a typical section of a municipal water distribution system. Pipe diameter and pressure are approximately 2/3 of that of a real system. 

This laboratory-scale hydraulic management system is made of PVC pipe with a variety of equipment, including:

  • Two variable-speed pumps
  • Flowmeters and pressure sensors, whose readings are transmitted to a central control system
  • Remote controlled pressure-reducing valves
  • Outlet valves whose flow rates can be remotely controlled according to pre-programmed time sequences
  • Remote controlled isolation valves
  • A central computer on which algorithms can be programmed to calculate the setpoints of the control devices based on the results from the various measuring instruments

The system is designed to be as versatile as possible. For example, testing and measuring equipment can easily be moved. Pipes can easily be replaced by pipes of a different material or pipes with defects. Isolation valves at various points make it possible to simulate various system configurations, from the simplest to the most highly meshed. Leak detection devices can be attached or inserted. Contamination can be simulated in the laboratory by injecting a saline solution into the pipes and then detecting its movement through the system by measuring conductivity at various points.

The Hydraulic Management of Water Distribution Systems Laboratory provides users with technical support for research and development.

Its staff help develop tools and mathematical models, supervise students at users’ request, and perform lab tests. Professor Sophie Duchesne’s team is on hand to provide municipal water management and modelling expertise.

Research themes studied at the Hydraulic Management of Water Distribution Systems Laboratory:

  • Contamination detection and response procedures to isolate contaminated sectors
  • Development and validation of water quality models for water systems
  • Real-time pressure control to reduce water losses
  • Leak detection through real-time analysis of flow and pressure measurements
  • System reconfiguration and its impact on contamination and leakage detection and control capabilities


For all the research themes studied in the laboratory, the general three-step methodology is based on:

i) Mathematical modelling of flows and operation of water distribution system components

ii) Comparison of modelling results with laboratory test results

iii) Revision of mathematical models based on observations from laboratory tests

This research facility is funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Government of Quebec.



Sophie Duchesne
Professor and Scientific head
Phone: 418-654-3776

Boutaina El Jai
Partnerships and Research Development Advisor
Phone: 418 654-2531

Hydraulic Management of Water Distribution Systems Laboratory

Institut national de la recherche scientifique

Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre
490 rue de la Couronne
Quebec City, Quebec G1K 9A9

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