A simplified approach for the hydrological simulation of urban drainage systems with SWMM

Alessandro Farina*, Armando Di Nardo, Rudy Gargano, Job Augustijn van der Werf, Roberto Greco

*Corresponding author for this work

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The management of an Urban Drainage System (UDS) is a complex task, as it requires extensive knowledge about precipitation regime, hydrological features of the catchment, hydraulic characteristics of the drainage network, and information about the water use by the served inhabitants. Complex semi-distributed hydrological and physically based hydraulic models are nowadays available to summarise such information and run simulations. However, in many cases, the uncertainty of the available hydrological information hampers the use of complex models. Hence, simple models with few parameters and small computational effort may be preferable, especially for UDS management problems requiring the execution of many simulations. This paper proposes a convenient approach to define effective lumped Simplified Models (SMs) of UDSs, the parameters of which can be estimated directly from cartographic information. For several case studies of UDS with different morphological and topological characteristics, SMs were built, capable of reproducing the hydrographs provided by available semi-distributed Detailed Models (DMs), assumed as benchmark in absence of measured hydrographs. To this aim, the SWMM simulation software was used, and the SM lumped parameters were calibrated by maximising the goodness of fit between the hydrograph of the DM and of the SM. The results show that SMs satisfactorily predict the hydrographs for all the case studies, and that robust relationships between the calibrated parameters and morphological and topological characteristics of the UDS can be established. This suggests that SMs can be used by decision makers for preliminary design, planning studies and management problems of UDSs, as their parameters can be soundly estimated from cartographic information. An example of application of SMs to Combined Sewer Overflow prediction is also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129757
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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  • Hydrological parameters
  • Lumped hydrological model
  • Simplified hydrological modelling


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