AbstractThe operation and dispatching of large-scale water supply systems is becoming more and more complex, and effective partitioning is a good response measure to this increasing complexity. This paper presents a multilevel partitioning method using freely configurable strategies suitable for multiobjective situations such as allocation of water sources, pressure regulation, and flow measurement. The method mainly relies on two strategies. Using Strategy A, water supply features are constructed based on water sources and a partition clustering is implemented that is suitable for the overall partitioning of a water supply from multiple sources. Using Strategy B, important pipes are first extracted to simplify the search path and then various constraints (pressure boundary, flow shunt, cross-river management) are used to select control points and partition by graph theory searching. This strategy is suitable for refining partitioning of the structure of a specific source. A combination of the aforementioned strategies was applied to the first-level and second-level partitioning in a case study. By flexibly configuring strategies and constraints, good partitioning is achieved and multiple management goals are accomplished satisfactorily. This research enhances understanding of the operational issues in complex water systems. The overall management of water networks can be disassembled into tasks at all levels and with their own objectives performed in stages. The solution provided in this study has the advantages of flexibility and effectiveness for a variety of complex water distribution situations, contributing insights into the real challenges of partitioning large water distribution networks.Practical ApplicationsThe multilevel partitioning method proposed in our study is mainly aimed at large and complex water distribution networks. In practical applications, the complicated relationships in the pipe network are simplified as much as possible, thereby reducing complexity in the management of water supply systems. Specifically, Strategy A partitions for allocation of multiple sources under the influence of the water source, and Strategy B partitions for multiobjective network decomposition under various constraints (such as pressure boundaries, cross-river management, and flow metering). By implementing these methods, practical advantages will be obtained for water utilities: (1) pressure regulation is simpler, (2) water pollution is easy to track, and (3) personnel and scheduling management is simplified. Related and potential applications include boundary pipeline management and cross-regional water transfer in first-level partitioning. Most pipelines with weak water supply capacity on the boundary play a small role in the transfer of water between subdistricts, and some valves can be closed in a targeted manner to clarify the management boundary and reduce management complexity. After capacity analysis of water plants, the management unit has a relatively scientific supporting basis for water transfer in actual operation.

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