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Water Distribution System Analysis History

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Tom Walski, Ph.D, P.E, Senior Product Manager, Water



The story of the history of water distribution system analysis (WDSA) is pretty fascinating, at least to me. There have been a large number of contributors to where we are today in water distribution modeling.

About 8 years ago, Walter Grayman, one of the top guys in the field, formed an ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute committee to document the history of WDSA. His committee included Lindell Ormsbee, Dragan Savic, Morris Maslia and me. Since we were all too busy to write something, we decided to document the history through a set of oral interviews with some of the leaders in the field, focusing on some of the most senior (i.e., oldest) people in the industry. We interviewed them and created a website from those interviews. Most of the participants were gray-haired or balding (except for the women who seemed to age better than the men).

You can find the complete set of interviews on YouTube at

It’s interesting to see and hear from some of the people whose papers we read and whose ideas we use. I personally know almost all of them. There are some really great minds in here, and some lesser minds. Speaking of lesser minds, you can find my interview at 

The interviews tend to focus primarily on researchers at universities, but my favorites were on some of the pioneers who actually used modeling in practice. Jeff Cruickshank was one of the first people to use models back in the 1960s.

Lee Cesario was one of the earliest water utility modelers at Denver Water and was the first chair of what has become the AWWA Engineering Modeling Applications Committee.

The list is international including people like Uri Shamir from Israel who wrote one of the earliest programs and has been a pioneer in numerous areas.

It’s interesting to hear that Don Wood almost became one of the original NASA astronauts; why Joe Kroon lived a few miles from Three Mile Island; and the fact that Dave Binning ran the utilities for the White House and the California White House for Ronald Reagan.

These aren’t exactly Oscar-winning videos, but they are better than most of the stuff on TV these days. Enjoy.

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