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Challenge Predicting Water Main Failure

Predicting Water Main Failure

Award: $35,000 USD
Deadline: Withdrawn
Active Solvers: 416
Posted: Aug 23 2017
Challenge ID: 9934007
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Yarra Valley Water, the Seeker for this Challenge, operates a vast network of water mains covering a service area of over 4,000 square kilometers and composed of approximately 182,000 individual pipe segments. Water mains occasionally fail, and Yarra Valley Water experiences around 5,000 pipe failures per year and is now seeking a method to accurately predict when a particular pipe segment will fail. Twenty years of pipe failure data as well as other relevant data will be provided to Solvers for the development of their solutions.

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation, output from the proposed algorithm, and submission of source code for validation upon request.


Water mains form an essential part of water distribution systems worldwide and range from large mains that transport water from distant reservoirs to reticulation mains that move water from large distribution mains to consumer’s properties. Unfortunately, these water mains occasionally fail, interrupting delivery of water to people affected by the break. A number of factors such as age, corrosion, external loadings and repeated pressure variations dictate when and how often water mains will fail.

Yarra Valley Water, the Seeker for this Challenge, has a reticulation main replacement program to maintain the reliability of its network. The program is currently reactive in that a reticulation main is replaced only after customers have experienced multiple service interruptions within a certain timeframe. In order to reduce service interruptions to its customers, Yarra Valley Water would like to find a method to predict beforehand when a reticulation main will fail, and thus this is the focus of this Challenge.

Yarra Valley Water is providing vast historical data of water main breaks along with information on its current water network and other relevant data and asking Solvers to develop an algorithm that can predict at least 50% of water main failures within six months or less prior to the break occurring.

A submission to the Challenge should include the following:

  1. A detailed description of the proposed Solution addressing specific Technical Requirements presented in the Detailed Description of the Challenge. This should also include a thorough description of the algorithm used in the Solution accompanied by a well-articulated rationale for the method employed.
  2. Output from the proposed algorithm covering the specified test year.
  3. For the top ranked submissions, the Seeker may request source code and/or an executable with sufficient documentation to enable the Seeker to compile, execute the algorithm, and validate the method using additional test data sets.

The Challenge award is contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the method/algorithm by the Seeker, and validation by the Seeker of the submitted reduction to practice Solution.

To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker. Instead, Solvers will grant to the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. 

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 21, 2017.

Late submissions will not be considered.



Yarra Valley Water is the largest water utility in Victoria, Australia in terms of customers served, providing essential water and sewerage services to more than 1.8 million people.

We manage almost $4 billion of infrastructure across approximately 4,000 square kilometres – our service area covers most of Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, from Wallan in the north to Warburton in the east.

We provide water and sewerage services to our customers through distributing water and collecting and transporting wastewater (sewage). We have entitlements to water from a number of catchments and desalinated water from the Victorian Desalination Plant at Wonthaggi. Our bulk water is delivered through Melbourne Water’s bulk water supply system to our distribution system.

Our customers’ wastewater is collected through our sewerage network and is treated at Melbourne Water’s eastern and western sewage treatment plants and our ten-local sewage and recycled water treatment plants. Our sewage treatment plants provide recycled water for fit-for-purpose household, business, open space (e.g., sporting grounds, golf courses) and agricultural uses.

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an RTP Challenge?

An InnoCentive RTP (Reduction to Practice) Challenge is a prototype that proves an idea, and is similar to an InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge in its high level of detail. However, an RTP requires the Solver to submit a validated solution, either in the form of original data or a physical sample. Also the Seeker is allowed to test the proposed solution. For details about treatment of IP rights, please see the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

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