4 Types of Distribution Networks in Water Distribution System : Advantages & Disadvantages

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The process of distributing treated water to the consumers is called a water distribution system. For proper distribution of water; a well-managed distribution network plays a vital role. We are discussing 4 types of distribution networks in this article. 

A good water distribution system aims to supply water to all the consumers whenever required in sufficient quantity with required pressure without any leakage.


  4 Types of Distribution Networks  

In general, there are 4 types of distribution networks in the water distribution system. They are:

a. Dead End or Tree system

b. Gridiron System

c. Circular or Ring System

d. Radial System


  a. Dead End or Tree System  

The dead-end system is also referred to as a tree system.

This system consists of one main pipe from which a number of sub-mains bifurcate and from each sub-main several branch pipes separate out which are called laterals.

From laterals; connections are given to different houses.

This system is easy to design and is cheap and simple.


Dead End Water Distribution System


Water conveyance is only unidirectional in this system, so water can reach a specific point solely through one route, thus if any fault creep in the water system gets disturbed in that area.

This system has many dead ends which prevent the free circulation of water, thereby increasing the possibility of contamination of water.

Discharge can’t be increased in case of a fire breakout.

Dead-end mains longer than 1,000ft should be at least 6 inches in diameter.


i. Suitability  

This type of distribution system is suitable for old cities.


ii. Advantages of Dead End Water Distribution System  

a. It is relatively cheaper.

b. Design and calculation of the dead-end system are easy.

c. Requires less number of valves; this makes it easier to determine discharges and pressures.


iii. Disadvantages of Dead End Water Distribution System  

a. The single pipeline serves the region. One problem in the pipeline may lead to a cut-off of the water supply of a large area.

b. Presence of many dead ends makes stagnation of water in pipes.

c. Discharge of water is quite low.


  b. Grid Iron System  

A grid iron water distribution system is also referred to as a reticulation or interlaced system.

The entire system consists of one main pipe which runs through the center and consists of branches and laterals which run in a grid pattern.

Since the mains, branches, and laterals are interconnected; dead ends are laminated and water reaches different locations through more than one route.

By closing cut-off valves of other areas’ pipes, water can be diverted to the affected area at the time of the fire.

There is a very fewer chance of recontamination because there are no dead ends.

Grid Iron Water Distribution System | Types of Distribution Network

The design of this system is complicated because pipelines get water from different directions.

The size of the pipes is larger and more sluice valves are required.


i. Suitability   

It is most applicable for a planned city where roads and streets are provided in well-planned rectangular and squares grid patterns ( i.e. Roads are at the right angle to each other. )


ii. Advantages of Grid Iron System  

a. The absence of a dead-end reduces the chances of pollution due to stagnation.

b. During repair and maintenance work; the small region is only affected.

c. Availability of enough water at street fire hydrants.


iii. Disadvantages of Grid Iron System  

a. Requirement of a huge number of cut-off valves.

b. Requirement of longer pipes with a larger diameter.

c. Difficult to determine discharge, pressure, and velocities in the pipelines.

d. Less economical.


  c. Circular or Ring System  

In the ring water distribution system; the supply main forms a ring around the distribution area.

The branches are connected cross-wise to the mains and also to each other.

This system is most reliable for a town with well-planned streets and roads.

Ring Water Distribution System


i.  Advantages of Ring Water Distribution System

~ Minimum head loss due to less number of interconnections.

~ High discharge.

~ Very few consumers are affected during repair and maintenance work.


ii.  Disadvantages of Ring Water Distribution System

~ High initial cost due to requirement of more pipes and valves as compared to other systems.


  d. Radial System  

In this system; the whole city is divided into parts and each part contains a centrally located distribution reservoir (elevated).

The distribution pipes are laid radially ending towards the periphery and are connected to the central distribution reservoir.

Radial Water Distribution System


i. Advantages of the Radial System

a. Easy to determine pipe size.

b. This system provides quick service.

c. Due to high discharge and minimum head loss; this system is used in high-rise buildings.

d. Few consumers are only affected during repairing and maintenance work.


ii. Disadvantages of the Radial System

a. Design of this system is very complicated.

b. More length of pipe is required as the connection is more in this system.


Read More: Water Treatment Process


Read More: Water Demand
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