How to Benefit from a Live Water Modeling System

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January 3, 2022 | Ryan Brown

6 minute read

Since utilities and municipalities make a significant investment in the development and planning for their communities, they value simplicity and reliability to provide better service to the residents of their communities. Being able to optimize performance and increase productivity from their teams is of great importance. All this equates to a positive return on their investment. To achieve that and more, Innovyze recommends a live water modeling system. 

Now, you may be asking yourself, what are some of the benefits of using a live water modeling system? 

Ensure the Safety of our Community 

The safety of our community, environment, and loved ones is a priority. With a live stormwater modeling system, we can predict when and where flooding will occur, in order to warn residents and emergency services. It’s a best practice to warn them about which roads or routes should be avoided, whether they should evacuate certain areas, or whether they are at risk of being isolated due to flooding. For a wastewater collection system, this can come in the form of environmental protection by changing operations to prevent Sanitary Sewer Overflows and Combined Sewer Overflows (SSOs and CSOs) or sending crews, proactively, to prevent raw sewage from entering water ways. For both applications, live modeling can provide the security for work crews to better plan their work and alert them when they, or their equipment, are at risk of being flooded. 

Provide Proactive Solutions to Common Concerns 

By being able to view the live data on top of the model data, it gives insight to the differences between what should be happening in a system versus what actually is happening in the system. Assuming the model is relatively well-calibrated, deviations between the modeling result and the physical measurement can mean a few different things:  

  • First, it could be that the sensor is beginning to fail and should be replaced or needs a repair. This is important for a utility operator to be assured that the data from the sensor is accurate and the operation’s decisions being made are the right ones.  
  • Second, it could be that there are blockages beginning to form. For a wastewater collection system, blockages are usually from Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOGs) (among other things), eventually forming fatbergs. Fatbergs are rock-like masses made up of non-biodegradable solids with FOGs that form in sewer collection systems. For a stormwater system, blockages can form from sediment, leaves, and other small debris, or from larger branches, logs, or stumps.  
  • Third, it could indicate part of a pipe is beginning to collapse, which would mean that there is less capacity. By proactively addressing these problems, these issues can be fixed before they become much bigger problems.

Better Plan for Work Crew Priorities 

By being able to predict how a system will act, given all the changing boundary conditions over the course of a week, can be incredibly helpful to those tasked with planning out the field crews’ day.  Having a week’s worth of forecast data on a system can make it easy to be efficient with the field crews’ schedules by sending crews to work in areas where it makes sense for that day’s priorities rather than sending them to perform a task in unworkable conditions or without necessary equipment. For instance, if repair work is needed on a portion of the system, a live modeling system could be used to schedule the repairs when flows are at a minimum, or make sure the necessary equipment is brought to the job site. This can be taken a step further with forecasts performed on a shorter time horizon, to help alert crews about incoming increased flows for them to evacuate themselves and their equipment. 

Improve Operations to Meet Requirements 

With changing climate, stricter water quality requirements, and rising land prices, we’re often faced with the challenge of doing more with less when it comes to stormwater management. With smart ponds and more real-time controls becoming an option for stormwater management, it provides potential to ensure flood management is maintained in the face of unforeseen conditions. With a live modeling system, operation teams can modify how stormwater is managed within the system to balance the needs of flood management with smaller footprint designs or help to meet water quality goals.   

Similarly, operations can improve with a wastewater collection system model. When boundary conditions change, a live modeling system can be used along with the deployment of various forecasting scenarios to determine the best path forward. This will better help to convey wastewater while limiting or eliminating SSOs/CSOs that may occur in a system. 

Leverage Value and Trust Your Results 

Organizations spend a lot of time, effort, and money to build and calibrate watershed and collection system master plans every 4-5 years, but they end up sitting on a shelf in the time in-between. And for good reason. The longer the model goes without being updated or re-calibrated, the less reliable it becomes and ultimately leads to distrust in the modeling results. With a live modeling system, a crucial component is to frequently update the model which allows organizations to better leverage the hydraulic model. They’ve invested so much time and effort into it and they want to trust the results. This means that as conditions change and new development is added to a system, cities will be able to have a more frequent understanding of the deficiencies in their system and make better decisions about how to prioritize capital improvement projects (CIP) projects annually.   

Additionally, with a physics-based live modeling system and live data directly connected to it, it’s even easier, and less time-consuming, to: 

  • Make comparisons of the modeled data and observed data 
  • Streamline calibrations of the model, rather than manually processing data through spreadsheets  
  • Make more frequent updates from developments in the catchment 


Infoworks ICM and ICMLive from Innovyze are live modeling tools that integrate with hydraulic models, SCADA historians, and weather forecast databases. ICMLive provides a near-real-time view of network performance and alerts your team to adverse events. For more information on how to benefit from this modeling tool, speak with an expert. 

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Tags: Infoworks ICM, Live Water Modeling, Hydraulic Modeling

About the Authors

Ryan Brown

Ryan Brown

Systems Engineer – Southeastern US


Ryan is a Systems Engineer with Innovyze with over 8 years of experience in consulting where he primarily focused on stormwater and riverine analysis, planning, and design using a variety of different software packages. His experience also extends to FEMA floodplain compliance and transportation hydraulics design.

Meg Riley

Meg Riley

Digital Content Specialist


Meg Riley is a digital content specialist with a ten-year background in content writing.