Thames Water uses FloodWorks to pilot real-time simulation and system optimization


Courtesy of Innovyze

Thames Water is using Innovyze’s powerful real-time modelling system, FloodWorks to obtain a better understanding of the performance of assets and the costs of routine maintenance and renewal. With ongoing pressure on capital investment programmes these represent critical issues for every utility and service provider. By using historic and forecast data from different sources to drive existing hydraulic models in real-time, FloodWorks provides Thames with a highly effective decision support tool.

The Pilot Project

Innovyze and Thames Water have worked closely together over an extended period to plan and then deliver a FloodWorks operational pilot system. The system currently covers the Hammersmith and Fulham area of the Beckton catchment in London, an area for which Thames already had an existing InfoWorks CS model available which was fully up to date and calibrated.

The system is driven by data from three key sources. Telemetry data is collected from the existing network of permanent loggers that were installed in support of Thames’ Drainage Area Plans. The loggers provide the system with 2 minute observations of levels at key sites within the pilot catchment. Historic rainfall data is provided by the NIMROD radar rainfall system operated by the United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UKMO). Forecast rainfall is supplied in the form of the UKMO ‘Nowcast’, a predictive radar product that every 15 minutes provides a forecast of the next 6 hours’ rainfall across the catchment.

FloodWorks collates this data to automatically run the InfoWorks CS model. This is currently on an hourly schedule but it is planned to move to half-hourly forecasts in the near future. Each simulation covers a “hindcast” period, normally 3 hours, and a forecast period of 9 hours. A key feature of FloodWorks is that the results of the different simulations are seamlessly blended together and the user effectively only sees the results from a single continuous simulation.

The FloodWorks server runs on hardware located within a secure area of Thames’ IT system. Individual users of the system are then able to log onto the system from local machines to undertake system monitoring and configuration.

To date, Thames has been using the system to develop a better understanding of the day to day operation of the network and the performance of key assets, and for targeting maintenance where it is most appropriate. Through comparing the model outputs with the levels from the permanent depth loggers it becomes possible to identify where the actual behaviour of the sewer system diverges from expected. FloodWorks is then able to send out alarms or warnings to the operational teams enabling them to deploy and investigate or manage a situation as it arises.

The pilot project has allowed Thames Water to build a greater understanding of the operation of the pilot catchment. Over time it will enable the utility to better target investment to the less resilient assets within the catchment.

Future Developments

Now that the operational system is in established use Thames is exploring ways in which the use of the system can be extended, both geographically and operationally. By including more of the CS models that cover the London catchments, the existing benefits of the system will be extended across more of the utility’s assets.

The forecasting capabilities of the system will also be further exploited. The ability of FloodWorks to predict how the system will respond to future rainfall means that potential locations of flooding can be identified with personnel and equipment deployed in advance.

Thames Water are also considering the use of scenario models within the FloodWorks system. The current system runs a baseline model which represents the existing situation. However, by enabling different versions of the model a range of possible scenarios can be explored. These could include changes to the operation of existing structures within the network, or alternatively capital improvements to the system. The scenario models can then be run in parallel with the baseline model to provide an ongoing picture of how the network would respond to the same rainfall inputs.


The pilot project has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of extending the use of an existing InfoWorks CS model into a real-time environment. By linking together the NIMROD, Nowcast and telemetry Datastreams FloodWorks provides Thames Water with an ongoing continuous simulation capability.

The system provides Thames with both a clearer picture of the day-to-day operation of the system and a forecast capability across the catchment. This allows decision making to be more informed to the benefit of both customers and shareholders.

FloodWorks will also enable Thames Water to test proposed solution models using real rainfall data so that impact and performance can be fully evaluated prior to construction.

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