Water Supply and Distribution

WSP helps governments and public and private utility companies through engineering, project management and advisory services to ensure the effective management, operation, performance and integrity of water supply and distribution systems in providing consumers, communities and industrial sectors with water for potable and non-potable uses.

WSP also works closely with the agricultural sector, which consumes more water than urban and industrial uses combined, to provide solutions to critical issues surrounding global water use patterns.

Pressure on the world’s freshwater resources is greater than ever before, with population growth, rising water consumption, extreme weather events and aging infrastructure all contributing to the significant pressure on potable water availability, quality and distribution systems.

Population growth, especially when coupled with urbanization, is creating new concentrated demands for increased water supplies throughout much of the world. As new population centres grow, sooner or later they reach a point where the most readily available high-quality water sources no longer sufficiently meet growing water demands. As a result, it becomes necessary to use water sources that are harder to treat and/or are located further away from population centres, and to add new linkages and mechanisms to existing structural systems to handle current and future demands, thereby rendering water supply and distribution systems more complex.

Even areas with stable populations and land uses often face problems. In some cases, we find that current water management practices are having unacceptable long-term environmental or public health effects, and that changes are required. Additionally, nothing lasts forever, and many older cities face severe problems with maintenance of aging water infrastructure. Buried water pipes are often particularly difficult to manage as they deteriorate and/or corrode, resulting in leakage or a diminished capacity to carry the flows for which they were designed.

WSP can assist with respect to the collection, treatment, storage and distribution of water. WSP provides economical and efficient solutions for water supply and distribution system projects that focus on meeting client objectives, while ensuring compliance with strict regulatory standards. Our areas of expertise include water research, evaluations and economic planning of supply and distribution networks—including reservoirs, pumping and pressure-boosting stations and water-main networks. We also provide integrated advisory and engineering services, as well as permitting support on complex water projects around the world.

Water Supply

The world’s water supplies draw from multiple sources including groundwater, surface water, brackish and saline water. WSP offers comprehensive services covering all aspects of the evaluation, development and management of water resources.

We advise governments and regulatory bodies on policies for the regulation and protection of water resources, offering a wide range of services necessary to assist in the development of their capacities, including hydrometric and water quality networks and monitoring programs; data collection, management and QA/QC; surface water and groundwater resource assessment; and water quality assessment and characterization.

WSP also provides value-added solutions to critical issues surrounding agricultural water demand, related infrastructure asset development and long-term asset management.

 WSP has a long history of working with a diverse range of clients ranging from small privately-owned enterprises and farms, to large corporate and government entities.

In New Zealand, WSP’s regionally based rural team of project managers; civil, geotechnical, mechanical and electrical engineers; surveyors; scientists; and planners focus on understanding water supply and quality, while planning for efficient and sustainable water use.

The team’s regional work has identified numerous opportunities for greater optimization in key agricultural nations such as New Zealand, Canada, Australia, as well as in other high-population density countries that have food supply versus population growth issues.

In Colombia, WSP has been a permanent ally of national government and local authorities in reducing gaps in drinking water and basic sanitation services between rural and urban communities—with WSP’s experience in the development of studies and designs helping identify socio-cultural characteristics attached to these communities.


WSP services for agricultural clients include:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Community water schemes
  • Asset management
  • On-farm water storage and irrigation
  • Land and nutrient management
  • Farm and dairy effluent
  • Pond Drop Testing
  • Infrastructure development


Groundwater is an important natural resource that provides a secure and often highly reliable source of water supply for rural and urban communities, manufacturing and industry sectors and the environment in general. Groundwater development involves identification of suitable aquifers, as well as locating, designing, constructing, monitoring and operating well fields to secure needed water supply in a sustainable manner.

Our teams are experts in developing water resource management systems to minimize impacts to other legal users, groundwater resources and the environment, as required by fundamental regulatory requirements.

Developing and managing groundwater resources requires aquifer characterization; groundwater modelling; expertise in well construction and development; and intimate knowledge of regulatory requirements.

Our highly-experienced staff is ready to help in providing practical, cost-effective specialist and geochemical services relating to groundwater quality; supply; resource protection; aquifer recharge; dewatering system design; sediment monitoring, modelling and control; planning studies for plant water supply; provincial/state and national regulations; planning; licensing; and management controls.

In Brazil, WSP worked in close collaboration with Bahia’s Water Resources Public Agency (CERB) to evaluate the water supply potential in a region characterized by limited rainfall and high evaporation rates. We assessed aquifer potential and well salinization mechanisms through our advanced simulation and visualization capabilities.

Combining modelling technology with technical expertise and collaboration, we revealed significant additional water production capacity by identifying barely exploited aquifers. We also projected future abstraction scenarios and their impact on groundwater salinity in production wells. Using this information, the government planned water-dependent initiatives benefitting more than 1,000,000 people.

Surface Water

Extreme weather conditions and climate change are placing increased stress on surface water resources. WSP provides solutions that help protect surface water resources, while managing them sustainably in the long term.

We are experienced in delivering surface water services to major infrastructure projects, including transport, energy, mining, residential, agricultural and industrial developments. Our specialized team of hydrologists and engineers helps clients manage surface water—from technical assessment and design through to advice on policy and legislation.

Our team’s experience allows us to offer a comprehensive range of surface water management services and to provide practical, sustainable, cost-effective and innovative solutions for projects of any scale. Our surface water management services include monitoring and assessment of quality and flow rates; storm water management; surface water supply; erosion control; stream and lake restoration; dredging; and and management of point and non-point discharges.

In the UK, WSP provided a water quality improvement scheme for Stover Lake, a freshwater lake located in Devon County Council-owned Stover Country Park. Facing water quality degradation, sediment accumulation and the disappearance of freshwater species over the years, WSP’s scheme aimed to reduce the impact of run-off from highway drainage onto the site and improve water quality.

Liaising with Devon County Council, the Environment Agency and Natural England, our solution included two new drainage crossings under the A38 to convey highway drainage into the park and into two treatment streams, each comprising an oil separator, settlement pond and reed bed to reduce contaminant levels entering the watercourse.

The proposed works will improve the water quality within Stover Park, meet Highways England’s Water Framework Directive obligations and support Devon County Council’s application for Heritage Lottery Funding, while the reed beds will be part of an educational program.

Brackish or Saline Water

WSP’s experts have a clear understanding of the environmental issues involved in desalination projects. We have provided design, peer reviews and construction management of multistage flash, multiple effect distillation and reverse osmosis systems.

We have also designed, permitted and provided construction management for brackish water wellfields, subsurface seawater intakes and concentrate disposal injection well systems. Our engineers have hands-on experience with all types of pre-treatment and membrane technologies, gained through involvement in desalination projects of all sizes.

WSP also works with clients to explore public and private markets to determine the best available funding source for desalination projects. We have undertaken a wide range of project investigations covering the technical and economic aspects of various types and capacities of water desalination schemes.

Our involvement in V&A Holdings’ proposed Waterfront Desalination Plant in South Africa exemplifies WSP’s local seawater reverse osmosis experience and our international best practice expertise. Current drought conditions in the region raised concerns about water supply and achieving self-sufficiency in potable water suppy.

As the process of desalinating seawater as a potable water source is a key pillar of V&A Holdings’ future water supply strategy, WSP was appointed as lead engineer to complete a detailed feasibility study for the proposed plant and its associated infrastructure.

The scope of our work includes pre- and post-treatment, seawater intake and brine disposal, bulk water infrastructure, including high-lift pumps, pipelines and storage facility, as well as managing all civil, marine, electric and instrumentation. WSP’s work also extends to environmental disciplines which entail financial viability modelling, plant operation optimization and numerical modelling, among other services.

Water Distribution

In light of the fact that distribution systems comprise the majority of the physical infrastructure and components, for many, they are considered the biggest water problem facing countries, municipalities and water utilities. Their management comprises operational and public health challenges that are intensified by events that can compromise the physical, hydraulic and water quality integrity of water distribution systems.

WSP always looks at the bigger picture. Using advanced software and technical expertise, our professionals find solutions through calibrations and hydraulic simulations of distribution networks to improve network resilience and to assess risk of asset failure, service interruption and supply of discoloured or contaminated water, as well as through optimal planning and management of preventive maintenance.

WSP provides a full range of services for water system rehabilitations, from initial studies and analysis, to the planning, design and construction management of new wells, pump houses and tie-ins, to the distribution systems. Our services also include the design of treated water storage tanks for water distribution systems and the provision of advanced modelling tools.

The modelling tools identify deficiencies in pipe segments; accurately predict performance under normal, peak and emergency conditions; and recommend upgrades to piping systems to improve flow characteristics, as well as decrease technical and commercial losses— all contributing to better operational conditions.

Project Experience and Track Record

WSP’s project experience and track record includes:

  • Building and applying an online hydraulic model for water distribution for Tekniska Verken, the municipal utility in Linköping, Sweden that uses input from pressure sensors installed throughout the city’s complicated network, providing live feedback and emergency alerts to the operations team.


  • Providing a design process focused not only on hydraulics, but also on the overall system efficiency and comparison of all options on a whole-of-life basis for the Dumbleton Raw Water Supply Project (Mackay Water, Australia). By modifying the existing pump station and changing the control system, we were able to re-use the existing pipelines, saving approximately $30 million compared to the base case planning option of replacing the pump station and pipelines.


  • Providing design and construction of the new Highland Gardens Park Water Booster Pumping Station for the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, undertaken in coordination with a separate project, where local water mains and other services will be replaced. The new pumping station, designed for an ultimate capacity of 12 ml/d, will connect to an existing reservoir and provide water to St. Joseph’s hospital and other users in the district.


  • Building and applying a hydraulic model for water distribution for Empopasto, the municipal entity in charge of providing water and wastewater services to the city of Pasto, Colombia. The results of the analysis helped divide the city’s network in hydraulic sectors, to control high pressures and water speed (prolonging pipe life), and reduce leakage and technical losses.