Watermain Breaks in Hong Kong: Causes and Consequences
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Watermain failure is a complex problem associated with significant socio-economic and environmental impacts. The complexity of this problem originates from many factors of physical, operational, and environmental nature. These aspects have varying contribution towards watermain breaks depending on the regional context. This, therefore, requires specialized studies for each individual region. This study aims at adopting the text mining approach to investigate the aspects contributing to the failure of watermains in Hong Kong (HK) and the socio-economic and environmental consequences of these failures. In this regard, a sum of 94 media articles discussing HK-based watermain failures from 1984 onwards are studied. The findings showed that the aging pipes, hilly terrain, ground settlement, excavation works, and high-water pressure, are the most repeated failure causes in the media. The watermain bursts in HK are found to result in traffic disruptions and incidents, loss of water supply, loss of business activity, flooding inside buildings, cave-in incidents, etc. The inquiry has resulted in a network of interrelationships among consequences of main breaks indicating that these breaks are complex occurrences where chains of events lead to significant socio-economic and environmental impacts. This demonstrates the need of resilient Water Distribution Network (WDN) in HK and also the need of rigorous risk management to deal with the threats related to main failures. The causes behind breaks identified in this study can lead to the modelling of HK-based WDN helping forecast the occurrence of such events. The consequences of breaks identified in this study can help formulate risk management frameworks for HK-WDN.