TUFLOW SWMM Tutorial Introduction

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On request from USA XPSWMM users, TUFLOW linkage with 1D EPA Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) has been added as a supported feature in TUFLOW 2023-03-AD release or newer. EPA SWMM is used for simulating urban watershed hydrologic and 1D hydraulic behavior. Initially developed in the early 1970's by the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the software has since undergone numerous updates and enhancements to become one of the most used 1D stormwater runoff and water quality analysis tools in North America. The primary uses of EPA SWMM include designing and evaluating stormwater systems and also planning and assessment of low-impact developments (also known as Water Sensitive Urban Design). For more details about EPA SWMM, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/water-research/storm-water-management-model-swmm.

This EPA SWMM series of tutorials has been written in USA English for the predominantly USA SWMM user base.


The following tutorial models are aimed at new and experienced users, stepping through the process of building and running TUFLOW SWMM together. The main objective aims to demonstrate the ability for TUFLOW to link to 1D EPA SWMM in a variety of different common use case scenarios.

Note, if you are not already familiar with TUFLOW, we recommend first completing Module 1 and 2 of the "TUFLOW Only" Tutorials to establish an understanding of 2D modeling, before progressing to learning how to link 1D EPA SWMM to 2D TUFLOW.

TUFLOW has supported 1D/2D dynamic coupling since its initial 2D solver development in 1989. Traditionally, 1D (1 Dimensional) linking and associated modeling has been applied using TUFLOW's 1D solver, ESTRY. As demonstrated in:

EPA SWMM's inclusion in TUFLOW does not replace ESTRY, rather both 1D solvers complement each other. Links to the TUFLOW SWMM tutorials are included in the section below.

Software Requirements

TUFLOW uses QGIS as its Graphical User Interface (GUI), in combination with text editor and spreadsheet software, for its model creation and result viewing. The group of software creates an extremely workflow efficient and flexible modeling environment. Notably, QGIS does not experience the data load/visualization lag and display issues some other hydraulic modeling software GUI's are limited by when working with larger datasets.

Requirement Brief Description Download
TUFLOW TUFLOW is a computer program for simulating depth-averaged, one and two-dimensional free-surface flows such as occurs from floods and tides, with the 2D solution occurring over a regular grid or quadtree mesh of square elements.

It is recommended to always use the latest release version of TUFLOW.

This tutorial model does not require a TUFLOW license.

This tutorial is configured to use a NVIDIA GPU card. If this is not available, your CPU can be used via the Hardware command.

The TUFLOW executable is provided within the Tutorial Download Dataset.

QGIS is the Geographic Information System (GIS) Graphical User Interface (GUI) used to build models and view results. The QGIS TUFLOW plugin includes numerous tools to increase workflow efficiency.

This tutorial was developed using QGIS 3.34 and QGIS TUFLOW Plugin 3.11. Please use these or newer versions of QGIS and the plugin. Earlier releases will not include the TUFLOW SWMM automation tools demonstrated in the Tutorials.

Latest 64-bit version of QGIS.

QGIS TUFLOW Plugin Installation.


Syntax Highlighting
A text editor is required for creation of the TUFLOW control (script) files. This tutorial was developed with NotePad++. Ideally a text editor should be able to:
  • Color code the TUFLOW control files;
  • Open other files from the active control file; and
  • Launch a TUFLOW simulation.

TUFLOW color coding can be enabled using syntax highlighting.

Latest 64-bit version of Notepad++.

TUFLOW syntax highlighting for Notepad++.

For instructions on configuring Notepad++ for TUFLOW modeling, see Notepad++ tips.

Microsoft Excel A spreadsheet software is required for working with tabular data and .csv files. This tutorial has been created using Excel.

Tutorial Data

To build the tutorial model, download the dataset below. This includes a digital elevation model (DEM), aerial photography, background model data for the tutorial model and a working version of the model. GeoPackage database has been used as the GIS format for the model build tasks. For tips on using GeoPackage databases see GeoPackage Tips.

Tutorial Modules

The download dataset contains the input files and working version of the tutorial model for reference. Results and check files are not included to keep the size of the download file manageable; they will be created when running the model simulations. The folder should be placed in a location with write permissions.

The tutorial model is presented in several modules. All modules can be completed independently, however new users are encouraged to undertake the modules in sequence:

TUFLOW SWMM Documentation

TUFLOW SWMM documentation can be found in the 2023-03-AD release notes for TUFLOW-SWMM and in the TUFLOW plugin documentation for the related QGIS tools.

Recommended Further Reading

For users who wish to get a better understanding of either 1D EPA SWMM or 2D TUFLOW, the following resources may be of use:

EPA SWMM: www.epa.gov

TUFLOW: www.tuflow.com

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