How technology can mitigate flooding and protect water infrastructure

The World Economic Forum reports that one in nine people (844 million people) lack access to water. Ten percent of the world’s population lives without safe drinking water.According to the World Health Organization, 40 million children facing serious water insecurity. Water scarcity and insecurity of available water is a major problem worldwide.

The World Bank estimates that, on average, utilities lose up to 25-30% of their water as non-revenue water in their networks. In developing countries, some 45 million cubic meters of water distribution networks are leaking every day, enough to supply nearly 200 million people with water.

Technologies that can provide flood simulations, detect leaks, and provide insights to manage water infrastructure have become a growth market. Polaris Research reports that the global smart water management market will grow from $13.73 billion in 2021 to $31.73 billion in 2030.

In 2021, Autodesk acquired Innovyze. The company focuses on building technologies that use modeling, simulation, and predictive analytics to create sustainable water distribution networks, water harvesting systems, water and wastewater treatment plans, and flood protection systems.

“Water is a critical resource that can quickly turn catastrophic. It’s easy to overlook the infrastructure needed to support water use in our daily lives,” said Colby Manwaring, vice president of Autodesk Innovyze. “It’s a complex, massive system to manage Access to clean water, wastewater treatment and stormwater management.”

Floods are increasing in frequency around the world, Manwaring said.

“Flooding can have devastating effects on physical communities and cut off clean water sources,” Manwaring said. “In all cases, this technology can help communities prepare for and recover from this disruption.”

Manwaring said the technique is based on physics and scientific hydraulic modeling in each instance. “Water, soil, pavement, cement, plastic pipes, etc. all have known physical properties,” Manwaring said. “With the right information, a digital model — a digital twin, if you will — can be created to simulate water. flow.”

“For flood models, the digital twin is the topography, topography, soil type, and water infrastructure like storm drains to accurately predict where water will eventually flow during heavy rainfall events,” Manwaring said. “The technology is accurate to precise distances, Because the physics of the model and how the water will react to those physics — like water flowing fast on sidewalks but slower on grass due to the effects of gravity and osmosis — is understandable and calculable”

The UK city of Reigate is an example of a scientific approach to modeling rainfall runoff to mitigate flood risk, Manwaring said. For two decades, the town center has been regularly flooded by river flooding, surface water and foul-smelling flooding, which has limited access to homes and the town center.

Autodesk’s engineering team built a watershed model of the river so the engineering team could create a model that combined data about Wallace Creek and its tributaries, as well as nearby ponds and other waterway structures.

The team needed to account for the soil to accurately model the potential for flooding, Manwaring said. “Hydraulic conductivity is the rate at which water may seep into the soil [..]”Rainwater infiltration into soil is an important consideration in modeling the impact of direct rainfall runoff,” Manwaring said. “Knowing the specific characteristics of soil plays an important role in predicting how it will infiltrate a catchment.

By using multiple infiltration models to calculate the watershed’s infiltration, the team was able to investigate in detail the different soil types within the watershed. This allows the city to more accurately predict what to expect during rainfall events.

Accurate information is critical when planning and building stormwater infrastructure, Manwaring said, because the balance between how much infrastructure must be built versus what the natural environment can absorb can help cities make better decisions about how to mitigate the effects of flooding. sustainable choice.

Sophisticated software with scientifically based models could provide better information about what’s happening with water, Manwaring added. “In many cases, it can be used to predict which areas within a few inches will be affected by potential flooding.”

“Simulation and management software enables water utilities and engineers to gain the insight needed to manage water infrastructure and plan for potential disasters,” Manwaring said.

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