Prof. Dr. Zoran Kapelan


Professor Kapelan is Head of the Urban Water Infrastructure group in the Department of Water Management. He is an IWA Fellow with over 30 years of experience in water engineering. Prior to joining TU Delft in 2018 he was heading the Water and Environment Group at the University of Exeter (UK) where he worked for 19 years, after a 10-year career abroad in consultancy. His research expertise and interests cover a wide range of topics related to drinking water and sewer systems.

Read more about Profile

Prof Kapelan’s work is already delivering a major impact in engineering practice. Working closely with the water industry he has pioneered the award winning technology for automated detection of pipe bursts/leaks and other events in drinking water systems. The technology is using Artificial Intelligence to process pressure and flow sensor data in near real-time. A version of this technology is now used companywide in United Utilities reducing the risk of supply interruptions to its 7 million customers and resulting in major operational cost savings.

On the wastewater side, Prof Kapelan has developed a new technology for automated condition assessment of sewer pipes from CCTV data by using image processing and machine learning techniques. This technology is currently being commercialised. Another example is the methodology for the prediction of sewer blockage rates that is assisting Welsh Water in creating operational and maintenance plans.

Prof Kapelan is a member of External Scientific Advisory Council of KWR, IWA Digital Water Steering Committee, IWA/IAHR/IAHS Management Committee on Hydroinformatics, the EWRI Emerging and Innovative Technologies Task Committee and the ASCE WDSA Standing Committee.

He is currently serving as an Editor for the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management (ASCE) and Associate Editor for the Water Resources Research. He has given over 80 invited talks including over 12 keynotes at major water engineering events such as IWA and CCWI conferences series. He has received a number of awards for his work. Further information can be found on his personal website.


Prof Kapelan’s research interests and expertise are centred on the development of novel engineering and informatics based methodologies addressing a wide range of challenges in urban water infrastructure and water engineering in general. He is/was the principal/co-investigator on more than 50 EU, RCUK, industry and other research grants with over €10 million of personal funding received.

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Prof Kapelan’s research is inter-disciplinary in nature and covers the following topics across the urban water cycle:

  • Smart water systems and hydroinformatics: advanced methods for planning, operation/control and maintenance of drinking water and sewer systems by using sensor and other data and advanced methods such as AI/machine learning and real-time forecasting and control;
  • Drinking water distribution systems management: leakage detection and management, pressure management, pump scheduling, optimal system (re)design including network/DMA sectorization, discolouration risk, demand forecasting, demand saving technologies, smart demand metering, intermittent water supply;
  • Storm/waste/combined sewer systems management: blockage/collapse predications and management, optimal (re)design and maintenance of these systems, sediment transport, nature based solutions / sustainable drainage systems;
  • Integrated water management and solutions: centralised and decentralised solutions based on water and wastewater recovery/recycling/reuse and the principles of urban metabolism, water-energy-food nexus, circular economy and sustainability;
  • Adaptation of urban water infrastructure to uncertain future: robust, resilient and flexible design based adaptation to climate change, population growth and urbanisation; characterisation of uncertainties;
  • Asset management of urban water infrastructure: advanced asset condition inspection techniques, asset performance assessment, asset deterioration modelling, prioritisation of asset interventions
  • Flood risk assessment and management;
  • Other (e.g. water resources management)
Read more about methods

The above involves applying and developing new methods:

  • Artificial intelligence / machine learning (neural networks, deep learning, Random Forest, Bayesian Networks), image processing, fuzzy logic
  • Real-time data validation, state estimation using data assimilation, real-time control including model predictive control
  • Methods for fault detection and isolation/location such as detection of pipe bursts/leaks, blockages/collapses and equipment failures;
  • Optimisation (stochastic/deterministic, wide range of metaheuristics including Genetic Algorithms, hybrid optimisation)
  • Multi-criteria decision analysis including methods such as Analytical Hierarchy Process and Compromise Programming
  • Decision making under deep uncertainty (robust/resilient/flexible design, Real options, scenario discovery)
  • Risk assessment and management including methods such as Fault and Event Tree Analysis and Failure Mode and Effect Analysis
  • Advanced simulation models of urban water infrastructure (physically based, data-driven and hybrids)
  • Serious gaming
  • Other (e.g. advance statistics methods)
Read more about Research

Prof Kapelan participated in funding prioritisation panels and has evaluated research proposals for over 20 funding bodies around the world. He has examined externally over 50 PhD students in ten countries. He served as a chair or member of scientific and organisation committees at more than 50 international and national conferences, workshops and other events. He has supervised over 25 postdocs and 40 PhD students so far.

Further information about Prof Kapelan’s research can be found on his personal website.

Prof Kapelan is coordinating the CIE4491 course in Urban Drainage and Water Management. He is also contributing regularly to several other courses at TU Delft, the CEE5003 course in Asset Management and the CIE5550 course in Water Transport and Pumping Stations. He is lecturing regularly at IHE Delft on the Advanced Water Transport and Distribution course. Prof Kapelan has guest lectured at the MSc, PhD and industrial courses in Italy, Estonia, Brazil, Norway, Colombia, Hong Kong, Netherlands and the UK.

Read more about Educational activities

Prof Kapelan has, over the years, led a number of courses at both under and postgraduate levels covering urban drainage and drinking water related topics. He has also developed new taught programmes (e.g. PhD programme for the WISE Centre for Doctoral Training in the UK that he managed), coordinated the MSc level programmes (e.g. PGT Programme Director for Civil and Environmental Engineering 2010-13) and has assessed taught UG/PG programmes at other universities (e.g. external examiner at University of Southampton 2013-17).

Further information about Prof Kapelan’s teaching can be found on his personal website.

Prof Kapelan has over 450 publications with H-index of 49 on a wide range of topics related to urban water infrastructure and water engineering in general.

Please see his personal website for an up to date list of publications.

Please see his personal website for a full list of research projects, grants and more.

Zoran Kapelan

Professor and Chair of Urban Water Infrastructure

Monday till Friday