Ensuring water supply when the heavens rarely open, using risk simulation software

Abu DhabiThe UK finally seems to be heading into summer after an unusually long and cold winter.  However, despite the amount of rain that falls on our ‘green and pleasant land’ (to the extent of major flooding on occasions), one of the anomalies of the UK weather system is that any prolonged warm period seems to be accompanied by the underlying threat of a hosepipe ban.

This is in stark contrast to many regions around the world that, despite seeing far less precipitation, manage a robust water supply.  Abu Dhabi for example has no rain for several months of the year, and relies almost completely on desalinated seawater for its potable water requirements.  The desalination process is challenging in terms of operation, costs, and environmental impact.  Whilst over-production capacity is expensive, at the other end of the scale it is essential that Abu Dhabi has sufficient water production capacity to support the Abu Dhabi government development plan (Abu Dhabi Plan 2030). 

This plan means that the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Company (ADWEC) is required by the Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB), the regulatory body of Abu Dhabi, to use a risk-based methodology to assess the water demand and required capacity.  As a result ADWEC uses @RISK risk analysis software to help it to forecast as accurately as possible the demand for water and electricity across the Emirate in order to plan for the optimum expansion as well as the efficient and effective use of water production plants.

@RISK enables ADWEC to model all feasible uncertainties in the variables that determine the quantity of water required over specific timescales, such as per capita water consumption rates and the rate of population growth.  The variables input into the @RISK risk simulation software model are based on the water demand categories such as domestic, agricultural and industrial. Factors with inherent uncertainties that affect the demand forecast outcome and must be modelled include: seasonal variation, distillers’ unplanned outages, water losses, population growth rates and demand for housing.

By undertaking risk analysis of the variables involved in assessing demand and supply, ADWEC minimises the potential for water production capacity to be over or under deployed.  As a result of using @RISK to assist with its forecasting, planning and management strategies, ADWEC has been able to consistently meet with almost complete accuracy the Abu Dhabi Emirate water demand forecasts.

A useful lesson…

» Read the full ADWEC case study

Craig Ferri
EMEA Managing Director of Risk & Decision Analysis

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