Deep learning identifies accurate burst locations in water distribution networks

Xiao Zhou, Zhenheng Tang, Weirong Xu, Fanlin Meng*, Xiaowen Chu, Kunlun Xin, Guangtao Fu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


Pipe bursts in water distribution networks lead to considerable water loss and pose risks of bacteria and pollutant contamination. Pipe burst localisation methods help water service providers repair the burst pipes and restore water supply timely and efficiently. Although methods have been reported on burst detection and localisation, there is a lack of studies on accurate localisation of a burst within a potential district by accessible meters. To address this, a novel Burst Location Identification Framework by Fully-linear DenseNet (BLIFF) is proposed. In this framework, additional pressure meters are placed at limited, optimised places for a short period (minutes to hours) to monitor system behaviour after the burst. The fully-linear DenseNet (FL-DenseNet) newly developed in this study modifies the state-of-the-art deep learning algorithm to effectively extract features in the limited pressure signals for accurate burst localisation. BLIFF was tested on a benchmark network with different parameter settings, which showed that accurate burst localisation results can be achieved even with high model uncertainties. The framework was also applied to a real-life network, in which 57 of the total 58 synthetic bursts in the potential burst district were correctly located when the top five most possible pipes are considered and among them, 37 were successfully located when considering only the top one. Only one failed because of the very small pipe diameter and remote location. Comparisons with DenseNet and the traditional fully linear neural network demonstrate that the framework can effectively narrow the potential burst district to one or several pipes with good robustness and applicability. Codes are available at

Original languageEnglish
Article number115058
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Burst localisation
  • Deep learning
  • DenseNet
  • Pipe burst
  • Water distribution network


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