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Thread: Model size and complexity - Bigger is Better?

  1. #1
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    Innovyze Employee

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    Feb 2013

    Question Model size and complexity - Bigger is Better?

    As computer manufacturers produce faster and ever more powerful PCs and Servers, so engineers and hydraulic modellers are able to produce larger and ever more complex models of their drainage networks. Whether or not you subscribe to the ‘Bigger is Better’ theory, there is always genuine interest in the size and complexity of models that have been produced and how they have grown as time goes by. With this in mind, it would be interesting to learn a little about the models you have created.

    1. What type of study was it (i.e. Drainage Area Plan/Study, Surface Water Management Plan, Sewerage Master Plan, Integrated Catchment Study, etc, etc)?
    2. How big was the model you created in terms of total catchment area and the number of pipes/manholes needed to meet the requirements of the study?
    3. If the model contained 2D calculations, what area of the model was covered by the 2D zone and approximately how many elements were in the mesh?
    4. Which modelling software did you use and when was the model created?

    This is a topic that everyone can contribute to, so let’s hear about the models you remember well, whether that’s because of size, complexity or the shear difficulty of creating the model in the first place .
    Last edited by Andrew Walker; March 17, 2013 at 05:50 AM. Reason: Clarity
    Andrew Walker
    Client Service Manager | Innovyze | Wallingford, UK
    Web: | Twitter: @innovyze

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Birmingham SWMP models

    We have four models, 2 in IWCS and 2 in ICM (one fairly small). Key figures for the 3 largest are as follows:

    Upper Cole Birmingham SWMP Northern River Rea
    Nodes Total 5498 10798 Nodes Total 15214
    Nodes Manholes 5491 10721 Nodes Manholes 14712
    Pipes 5054 10792 Pipes 14556
    Rivers 409 Channels 159
    Rivers 189
    Bridges 75
    Pipe Length (m) 292328.53 643991.38 Pipe Length (m) 928246.19
    Pipe Size (mm) 100 - 40000 100 - 7163 Pipe Size (mm) 100 - 28900
    Subcatchments 4730 6176 Subcatchments 9752
    Subcatchments Total Area (ha) 9487.65 5637.59 Subcatchments Total Area (ha) 18102.28
    2D zone 1 no., 698ha. 1 no., 1354ha. 2D Zones 1no., 2956ha.
    2D elements 163602 211027 2D Elements 510454

    NB The largest "pipe sizes" are representations of open tanks and simplified overland flow channels.
    Upgrading our PCs to decent Core-i7 with 16GB RAM has helped enormously with run times!
    Last edited by Kristian Ravnkilde; March 18, 2013 at 04:16 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    Innovyze Employee

    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Bigger is sometimes better! Modern models are also more complex internally (more processes) and often much longer in simulation time. It is not just the number of elements but what each element is simulating.

    I have tried to develop a complexity index for models in the past to compare a 2010 model to a 1990 or earlier model. I tried to make it both additive (nodes + links + subcatchments) and multiplicative (duration + internal complexity such as pollutants and landuses). I am thinking in terms of SWMM 5 and InfoSWMM but generally it can be applied to ICM or IWCS models with some adjustment of the parameters.

    The complexity index adds up the of raingages, subcatchments, junctions, outfalls, dividers, storages, conduits, pumps, orifices, weirs, outlets, control curves, diversion curves, pump curves, rating curves, shape curves, storage curves, tidal curves, time series, patterns, transects, hydrographs, aquifers, controls, climate objects and snowpacks objects. The complexity index is then multiplied by the number of pollutants for all subcatchments, junctions, outfalls, dividers, storages, conduits, pumps, orifices, weirs and outlets and it also includes the number of landuses times the number of subcatchment objects.

    I would suggest the following changes to add in 2D elements + runoff surfaces

    Index = (( 2D Objects + Nodes + Links +Link RTC Elements + Outfall Elements Subcatchments * Runoff Surfaces + Groundwater + RDII + DWF Elements + SnowMelt Elements)) * Pollutants * Duration

    A 1000 day model would be 1000 times more complex than a 1 one day model, a model with groundwater and snowmelt would be three times as complex hydro-logically as a model without snowmelt and groundwater.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Feb 2013
    Maybe you and Andrew should agree what information to ask for, and then all respondents can (try to) provide it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    Innovyze Employee

    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Hi Kristian, I liked your informative list and I think your comment is more in line with what Andrew was looking for in this thread. I was just suggesting that model "bigness" or complexity is also a function of internal processes and duration as well the number of elements.

  6. #6
    I am a firm believer in the "Bigger is Better" approach to building sanitary models. They are easier to build, calibrate and update. Our modeling methodology is based around building full pipe models with individual parcels as subcatchments. If you have decent GIS data available, then the build process is relatively simple, but can be time consuming. The two largest models I have built are for Little Rock Wastewater and the City of Hot Springs, both in Arkansas, United States. Here are their stats:

    Little Rock:
    Nodes: 27,350
    Conduits: 37,348 (4"-72" pipe)
    Total footage: 5,441,920 ft
    Subcatchments: 1,655
    Pump Stations: 5
    Offline Storage: 78 MG

    Hot Springs:
    Nodes: 21,247
    Conduits: 15,611 (1"-60" pipe)
    Gravity sewer footage: 2,264,130 ft
    Pressure sewer footage: 1,269,178 ft
    Subcatchments: 24,504
    Pump Stations: 270
    Grinder pumps: 5,352

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