Quantitative measure of sustainability for water distribution systems: A comprehensive review

Seungyub Lee, Joong Hoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This work provides a comprehensive review of the quantitative measures of sustainability proposed for water distribution systems (WDSs) and their sustainable development. After a comprehensive literature review, eighteen studies overall, either clearly proposing quantitative measures of sustainability (three studies) or highlighting sustainable development (fifteen studies), were selected for a closer review. All three measures showed either a lack of applicability or were missing important aspects of sustainability. Additionally, they have not been thoroughly validated by demonstrating the measures under acceptable scenarios/conditions. The reviewed sustainable development practices showed that energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, life cycle costing, and reliability were widely used to evaluate environmental, economic, and social impacts, respectively. The two primary recommendations made based upon reviews were to: (1) consider balancing usage (cost) and gain (benefit), rather than impacts; (2) consider indirect (cascading/consequential) interactions. Overall, existing measures of sustainability and sustainable development practices in WDSs must be advanced to accommodate a focus on restorative systems, as well as to maximize benefits and enable multidisciplinary and broader analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10093
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 1


  • Drinking water infrastructure
  • Sustainable development
  • Water distribution system
  • Water sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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