Hydraulic model of water-wastewater system covers more than capital upgrades

Posted in: Municipal, Water


Hydraulic water modelBeing able to run water or wastewater through virtual pipe systems is beneficial to infrastructure planning and identifying potential problem areas. A hydraulic model is a scaled version of your pipe network that includes every reservoir, pump station, tank, etc. On screen you will see how your community’s infrastructure is impacted as virtual water is run through the current system. You can view the same in-active scenario as various improvements are considered. The key to developing a successful model is working closely with field engineers, operators, and designers to bridge the gap between models and reality.

After I build a model with the appropriate infrastructure, the next step is to let the water flow with various demands assigned throughout the system. I’ve also built different demand scenarios, so the client can see an evaluation of their system during low flow, peak flows, average flows, fire flows, etc. A calibrated model allows me to analyze the water or wastewater system beyond just determining necessary capital upgrades. It also considers the impact of operational changes.

A thoughtfully developed hydraulic model of your treatment system will answer a wealth of questions. For example: have you ever wondered how operating your tanks at different levels impacts operations? Or how your system would respond if you wanted to create a new pressure zone? By “tinkering” with the model, I can suggest improvements to keep your system in topnotch working order. In particular, models can be used as tools to help you eliminate:

  • Pressure surges
  • Low water pressure
  • Undersized pipes
  • Closed valves
  • Poor turnover in tanks
  • Excessive water age

The model needs to be updated annually. In fact, I recommend more frequently if you have newly completed projects. It is your tool to stay on top of what your community needs now and in the future.


Shannon Saramaa, PE

About the Author

Shannon Saramaa, P.E., is a member of Mead & Hunt’s water and wastewater team. A true entrepreneur with innovation in her heart, Shannon founded a municipal water and wastewater consulting firm that continues to serve numerous Colorado utility districts, cities, institutions and other water and wastewater providers. Shannon now goes forward in the same spirit as a member of Mead & Hunt.

Read more posts by Shannon Saramaa, PE

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