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May 9 Webinar: Drainage Infrastructure Analytics - Identifying the Worst First
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May 9 Webinar: Drainage Infrastructure Analytics - Identifying the Worst First

SWEET is a computerized GIS toolbar that allows a non-political & transparent process to identify the “Worst First” areas. The toolbar uses information from several databases to analyze & prioritize the need for stormsewer drainage improvements. The DEA analysis automates the process to calculate the flows at different locations for different storm events, enabling the City to pinpoint the inadequacy of just one or more components within the 33 million feet of interconnected drainage system.

When: Tuesday May 9, 2017
Noon - 1 PM CT
Where: Your Phone, Computer or Tablet
United States
Presenter: William Conlan PE, CFM | RPS Klotz Associates
Contact: Annemarie Gasser

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Like most cities, the City of Houston is challenged to keep up with maintaining and expanding an aging infrastructure system for its 2.5 million population over its 675-square-mile area. In 2009, RPS Klotz Associates developed Infrastructure Analytics, a computerized toolbar based on GIS, for the City to objectively identify and prioritize infrastructure improvement project city-wide. In 2014, the City’s GIS toolbar only included databases for enclosed storm sewers. Enclosed storm sewers comprise 62% of the city, with open roadside ditches providing drainage for the remaining 38%. The City’s 1999 Comprehensive Drainage Plan provided only a pass/fail ranking of whether a component was able to accommodate the 2-year event.

The engineering team coordinated with the Operations and Maintenance Department to utilize grant funding to expand on the survey of the city’s roadside ditches. To determine where the flow would accumulate and how much area would drain to each cross section, team members electronically reconditioned a topographically correct terrain to be hydrologically correct. This included exaggerating the roadside ditch flowlines and roadway centerlines to force water to collect and drain to key features, as well as “filling sinks” to avoid indeterminate drainage paths and water ponding in bowls. The team also used GIS linework connectivity with LiDAR to assess the cumulative effect of overlapping drainage areas.


The team reconfigured the automation code used on the roadside ditch network and developed additional methodologies to analyze the closed conduit system, allowing a more detailed determination of adequacy to be assigned to the entire storm drainage network. Engineers define the adequacy of an infrastructure system to handle the demands upon it in terms of “level of service.”


Complexity was inherent in developing the Design Event Adequacy (DEA) coverage, which entailed a rigorous sequence of data pre-processing, existing flow determination, conveyance capacity evaluation and data post-processing, each step requiring multiple programming and data manipulation tasks. For example, the team ran 67 digital elevation models, each 1.5 gigabytes in size, and a programming script to analyze more than 62,500 points to delineate watersheds. The final step involved programmatic automation to process the massive amounts of data with minimal user interaction and ensured consistency, timeliness and accuracy.

It also provided a more comprehensive evaluation from the previous pass/fail grade of the ability to handle 2-year storm events. Advanced computer modeling has proven a cost-effective and streamlined way to provide a complete picture of the city’s 33 million feet of storm drainage, with exponentially improved data accuracy to pinpoint the adequacy or inadequacy of components within the interconnected storm system to handle from events from the 2-year to the 100-year storm. 

The newly defined DEA coverage offers future value to the engineering profession by providing the automated technology to define and measure the items needed to calculate the flows at different locations, determine the level of service for an extremely large data set and provide the City with an ability to understand and identify the “worst first” areas for budgeting and inclusion into the CIP.


About the Presenter:


William Conlan PE, CFM

Senior Project Manager

RPS Klotz Associates

As a Senior Project Manager with RPS Klotz Associates, Mr. Conlan is responsible for managing the studies and modeling of storm water projects that meet the needs of the client.  Mr. Conlan has been a Hydraulics and Hydrology Design Engineer for 15+ years. During this time, he has been responsible for handling many hydrology and hydraulic related studies and designs.  He has been involved with the evaluation, design and construction of multiple master-planned residential communities, site-specific drainage facilities, and governmental infrastructure projects for several cities, counties and state agencies around Texas.  Mr. Conlan is experienced in detailed hydrologic delineation and evaluation of watershed drainage areas, closed conduit and riverine hydraulic analyses and floodplain mapping and modeling.  Prior to RPS Klotz Associates, he was a Senior Project Engineer with Jones Carter, Inc. and was an integral part of the TSARP remapping of the Harris County Flood Control Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), including HEC-RAS analysis and GIS floodplain map generation.   Mr. Conlan also managed several Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) while working in the H&H Department.



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