Saturday, March 19th, 2011
Chicago, IL , March 18, 2011 - Water utilities under pressure to reduce capital expenditure are turning to world-leading water systems decision support to save up to 30 percent in infrastructure costs.

Jeffery Frey, co-founder and Technical Director of water systems optimization specialist Optimatics, says that there has been a “paradigm shift” away from simulation modeling of major projects towards an optimization approach to planning and operating water and wastewater systems.

“In speaking with many water industry leaders over the past year, we have observed an increased awareness of optimization and the value it brings,” Mr Frey said.

“The optimization approach provides greater transparency in the design process, faster turnaround times on what-if scenario modeling and superior capital improvement and operating solutions.”

Greg Baird, former CFO for Aurora Water in Colorado, who now writes the Money Matters column for American Water Works Association Journal, said in a recent column discussing strategies for minimizing rising water costs:

“Conduct on-going optimization decision support analysis on hydraulic models for comprehensive planning, operational efficiency reviews, cost allocation verification, and ‘green’ alternatives analysis using advanced techniques such as genetic algorithms.”

In January, the Partnership for Safe Water (PSW) announced a new Distribution System Optimization Program saying: “PSW’s optimization programs identify opportunities for improvement in water system operations…”

And Pam Elardo, Division Director at King County Department of National Resources in Seattle, said that the move from traditional simulation to optimization was ‘like moving from the slide rule to the calculator.’”

The traditional simulation modeling approach relies on engineering judgment and trial-and-error to develop a handful of solutions for evaluation.

“By contrast,” Mr Frey says, “an optimized decision support approach uses powerful, water-specific optimization tools to guide the modeler or planner to identify superior, low-cost solutions.

“Using optimization, the planner elevates their role to one of directing the software to find a range of near-optimal solutions rather than trying to solve the problem themselves. This is fundamentally different from a simulation approach, no matter how sophisticated.

“Engineering judgment remains a key factor but importantly the modeler avoids getting bogged down in the details of creating a trial solution, running it, analyzing the results, repeating those steps and then ultimately manually calculating the cost of a preferred solution.”

Optimatics Optimizer WDS for water distribution systems and Optimizer WCS, for collection systems, are used by more than 85 water utilities.

“This optimization process frees the modeler and project engineers from the drudgery of repeated trial-and-error testing while it encourages innovation and out-of-the-box thinking,” Mr Frey said. “The process welcomes input and ideas from the utility’s Planning, Engineering and Operations groups—in fact obtaining this wide-ranging input is critical to achieving the best overall solution for the utility.”

The water issue has attracted the attention of the Harvard Business School’s thought leaders, with John Briscoe, a professor at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, noting that despite the growing threats to urban water supplies, “water is often planned last and gets short shrift”.

How does Optimization Modeling work?

The optimization modeler performs a deficiencies analysis to see where there are problems in the system, and then adds all possible capital improvement and operating options into the model as decision variables to be considered. The optimization search mixes and matches the improvement and operating options to create hundreds of thousands of trial solutions that are run individually in the hydraulic simulation model. This is done automatically by the software which proceeds to evaluate each solution’s hydraulic performance and cost simultaneously.

The process uses an automated trial-and-error process that takes advantage of today’s available computing power. This genetic algorithm approach has been called “trial-and-error on steroids”.

Water and wastewater utilities using optimization to achieve better solutions include: Las Vegas Valley Water District, San Antonio Water System, San Diego Water, East Bay Municipal Utility District and Johnson County Wastewater (USA); Murray Darling Basin Authority, South Australian Water Corporation, Sydney Water and Melbourne Water (Australia); Watercare and North Shore City Council (New Zealand); and, United Utilities, Anglian Water and Veolia Water Central(UK).

Contact Profile


Optimatics provides the water industry’s most powerful decision support tools and processes to enable optimal water services. Optimatics works with water and wastewater utilities in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK. Optimatics enables decision makers to optimize the planning, operations and management of their water and wastewater networks with its proprietary software, consulting and distributed computing solutions. The Optimatics mission is to empower water and wastewater utilities to be leaders in sustainability and responsive to the needs of their communities.
Jeffery Frey, Co-founder / Technical Director
P: + 1 773 792 2661


water, optimization, water modeling, Optimatics, optimize



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