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The National Water Model in the Austin Area

The National Water Model in the Austin Area

David Maidment, UT Austin (Engineering)




The National Weather Service is now operating a National Water Model as a high spatial resolution, real-time water forecasting system for streams and rivers in association with its weather forecasting system.  For Travis County there are forecasts updated hourly for about 500 river and stream segments of average length 2 miles.  The 10m National Elevation Dataset has been analyzed to generate a “Height Above Nearest Drainage” value for each 10m cell in the landscape draining to a particular 10m cell in the stream network, and from this the stream channel geometry and rating curve converting discharge to water level have been computed.  This enables the piezometric head surface of the river and stream network to be computed in real-time, and real-time flood inundation mapping to be created.  The Austin Fire Department has prepared flood response maps to anticipate actions that need to be taken when vulnerable communities are threatened with flooding. The Onion Creek watershed is being used as a test-bed to check the validity of these forecasts and planning procedures.  The piezometric head surface of the streams and rivers must be connected to the piezometric head surface of the shallow groundwater system but this connection is not well defined in the National Water Model.  Input from the Austin Geological Society would be welcomed as to how best to characterize the shallow groundwater system of relevance to this process.

More information is available at:


David R. Maidment is the Hussein M. Alharthy Centennial Chair in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin where he has been on the faculty since 1981.  He received his Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Engineering with First Class Honors from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and his MS and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Texas, he was a research scientist at the Ministry of Works and Development in New Zealand, and at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria, and he was also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University.

Dr Maidment is a specialist in surface water hydrology, and in particular in the application of geographic information systems to hydrology. In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering "For development of geographic information systems applied to hydrologic processes".

Dr Maidment teaches classes in surface water hydrology and GIS in Water Resources. From 1992 to 1995 he was Editor of the Journal of Hydrology. Dr Maidment is also co-author of the text Applied Hydrology (McGraw-Hill, 1988), Editor in Chief of the Handbook of Hydrology (McGraw-Hill, 1993), co-editor of the monograph Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling Support with GIS (ESRI Press, 2000), co-author and editor of Arc Hydro: GIS for Water Resources, (ESRI Press, 2002), and co-author of Arc Hydro Groundwater (ESRI Press, 2011).


Later Event: December 10
AGS Holiday Party