PhD: Applying insights from failures to improve water distribution system management via FindAPhD

The University of Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand 🇳🇿

About the Project

The size and buried nature of water supply networks preclude continuous condition monitoring of pipes and other components. This, in turn, hampers the ability of water service providers to implement robust maintenance and asset management practices to ensure a high level of service in the most cost-effective manner.

Despite frequent leak repairs in water distribution systems, little published information is available on the causes, characteristics and growth of failures on pipes and network components. Such information will provide evidence on the condition and deterioration of system components and the causes of failures, which has the potential to significantly improve system operational and asset management.

The aim of this project will be to gain insights into the causes and development of failures in water distribution systems using data analysis, physical testing and computer modelling, and to apply these insights to improve water distribution system management.

Specific objectives include the following:

• Work with pipe repair databases and repair teams to collect and document detailed information on pipe failures in the water supply systems of Auckland and other partners.

• Document, test and model (using fracture mechanics theory) selected failures to gain insight into failure causes and development over time.

• Develop a stochastic model for the initiation and development of leaks in a typical water distribution system.

• Quantify the requirements, costs, and potential benefits of incorporating condition assessment in standard pipe repair processes.

The project will be implemented in partnership with the Building Innovation Partnership (BIP), Watercare and other utility partners. The BIP will be developing a non-proprietary standardised database of water pipe condition and failures to support the project.

A PhD scholarship of $38 000 per year to cover university fees and living expenses is available for an excellent candidate to start early in 2023. A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Civil, Materials or Mechanical engineering is required.

To be considered for this position, please send your CV and transcripts to





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development