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Integrated Catchment Model of drainage infrastructure, Krakow

Krakow’s digital integrated catchment model to enhance city resilience

When it comes to water, cities around the globe face mounting challenges to optimise their networks, ensuring they are resilient to the stress created by growing demand and capable of handling shock events like flooding.

In Poland, the country’s second largest city, Krakow, is working to develop a digital integrated catchment model that will accurately map the city’s catchment area and provide insight into the overall efficiency of the drainage networks.

Nearly two thousand kilometres of pipes, thousands of manholes, tens of pumping stations as well as flow regulators and combined overflow sewers will be investigated, mapped and tracked in the mathematical model.

The integrated catchment model will support the development of effective design strategies to cope with increasing surface runoff – the flow of excess water that increases the risk of urban flooding.

Project Summary


225 flow monitoring points

28rain gauges

1,700 kmof pipes

Arup won a tender to develop a digital integrated catchment model of Krakow’s entire drainage network, in what is set to be one of the largest and most complex integrated catchment models in the world.

Waterworks Krakow (Wodociągi Miasta Krakowa) will use the model as the basis for the development of a digital twin as it looks to create a resilient urban drainage network. The integrated catchment model will inform all further decision-making regarding the daily maintenance of Krakow’s water network, as well as any potential refurbishments and further expansion, resulting in a more cost and time-effective approach.

Complex data powers hydraulic model

The sheer scale and complexity of this sewage modelling project are the two biggest challenges. Powered by vast quantities of data, the integrated catchment model will help assess the efficiency and performance of the city’s water network and help signpost possible issues.

The integrated catchment model will include foul water and combined drainage systems as well as part of the surface water drainage dependent on the combined drainage network. It will also include the entire technical infrastructure serving the existing drainage system.

The model will be integrated with surface runoff, calculated on the basis of spatial data such as Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) surveys, geology maps, digital terrain models and city plans reflecting roads, footpaths and buildings arrangement as well as other terrain obstructions which may influence waterflow or infiltration.

In order to accurately assess rainfall patterns in Krakow and its surrounding areas, the integrated catchment model will be calibrated based on an extensive monitoring campaign of sewage flows and rainfall including more than 200 monitoring points and 28 rain gauges. All of the network data - owned and maintained by the client - will be analysed, verified and confirmed on site if necessary by Arup engineers.

Krakow drainage network map Krakow drainage network map
Digital map of Krakow's drainage network

Automation, visualisation key for urban catchment model

Working with vast amounts of data requires a great deal of process automation to optimise project delivery times. Applying automated data processing methods to analyse urban catchments, detect data errors or reformat input data, our engineers will turn all of the collected information into a precise integrated catchment model reflecting the existing infrastructure. The model’s calibration process will be also partially automated to ensure greater efficiencies including time-savings.

For this project, our digital hydraulic modelling specialists chose the MIKE DHI water modelling package: the model’s potential future integration with radar data will enable the prediction of heavy rainfall and highlight any possible drainage network issues.

Krakow’s integrated catchment model will show how the use of digital tools can help unlock tremendous value for cities keen to create more resilient networks. The effective use of integrated catchment models will also help protect the local rivers against potential contamination, minimising the likelihood of sewage overflows into local watercourses.