Local Water Storage Control for the Developing World

Yonatan Mintz, Zuo-Jun Max Shen, Anil Aswani

Most cities in India do not have water distribution networks that provide water throughout the entire day. As a result, it is common for homes and apartment buildings to utilize water storage systems that are filled during a small window of time in the day when the water distribution network is active. However, these water storage systems do not have disinfection capabilities, and so long durations of storage (i.e., as few as four days) of the same water leads to substantial increases in the amount of bacteria and viruses in that water. This paper considers the stochastic control problem of deciding how much water to store each day in the system, as well as deciding when to completely empty the water system, in order to tradeoff: the financial costs of the water, the health costs implicit in long durations of storing the same water, the potential for a shortfall in the quantity of stored versus demanded water, and water wastage from emptying the system. To solve this problem, we develop a new Binary Dynamic Search (BiDS) algorithm that is able to use binary search in one dimension to compute the value function of stochastic optimal control problems with controlled resets to a single state and with constraints on the maximum time span in between resets of the system.

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