Uncertainty Propagation of Hydrologic Modeling in Water Supply System Performance: Application of Markov Chain Monte Carlo Method

Document Type



It is imperative for cities to develop sustainable water management and planning strategies in order to best serve urban com-munities that are currently facing increasing population and water demand. Water resources managers are often chastened by experiencing failures attributed to natural extreme droughts and floods. However, recent changes in water management systems have been responding to these uncertain conditions. Water managers have become thoughtful about the adverse effects of uncertain extreme events on the performance of water supply systems. Natural hydrologic variability and inherent uncertainties associated with the future climate variations make the simulation and management of water supplies a greater challenge. The hydrologic simulation process is one of the main components in integrated water resources management. Hydrologic simulations incorporate uncertain input values, model parameters, and a model structure. Therefore, stochastic streamflow simulation and prediction, and consideration of uncertainty propagation on performance of water supply systems (WSSs) are essential phases for efficient management of these systems. The proposed integrated framework in this study models a WSS by taking into account the dynamic nature of the system and utilizing a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm to capture the uncertainties associated with hydrologic simulation. Hydrologic responses from the results of a rainfall-runoff model for three watersheds of Karaj, Latyan, and Lar in Tehran, Iran, as the case study are used as inputs to the reservoirs. Results confirm that uncertainties associated with the hydrologic model’s parameters propagate through the simulation and lead to a wide variation in reservoir storage and WSS performance metrics such as vulnerability and reliability. For example, water storage simulation in the Karaj Reservoir can vary up to 70% compared with the observed values. This causes contradiction and conflict in the management of reservoirs and water systems and decision making. The results emphasize the importance of analyzing WSS performance under uncertain conditions to improve the simulation of natural processes and support water managers for a more efficient decision-making process.DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001646.© 2018American Society of Civil Engineers.

APA Citation

Goharian, E., Zahmatkesh, Z., & Sandoval-Solis, S. (2018). Uncertainty Propagation of Hydrologic Modeling in Water Supply System Performance: Application of Markov Chain Monte Carlo Method. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 23(5), 04018013.


© ASCE, 2018