Hydraulic Modeling: More Than a Pipe Dream

Hydraulic Modeling: More Than a Pipe Dream

Jessica Weinkauf | Aug 31, 2022

Welcoming more people, businesses, and/or industries to any given city often brings infrastructure challenges: what existing infrastructure can support the growth? What infrastructure will need to be replaced? Of course, these are just a few of the questions that come up when considering upgrades / expansions to infrastructure, and it can be difficult to know all the right questions to ask. Two growing South Dakota cities, Colton and Harrisburg, had unique challenges to address with their wastewater system infrastructure. To find the best route forward for each City’s individual needs and goals, Banner used Hydraulic Modeling.

Hydraulic Modeling is, in many ways, exactly what it sounds like. We use specialized software to create models of hydraulic systems to illustrate the complex effects of changing conditions on the sanitary sewer system. These hydraulic models display information on system components like pipes and pumps in multiple media forms like maps, tables, and graphs. Hydraulic modeling software allows us to study existing sewer systems, investigate proposed changes, and compare these findings against the projected system needs. For Colton, this meant looking at the impact of a growing residential footprint.

While planning a new residential development, the City of Colton wanted to determine if their system could handle the added wastewater, or if they needed to make a change. We gathered data and set to work on a hydraulic model to depict the impact of increased flows from the new development as the homes are filled over time. The model indicated the system needed some improvements and increased treatment capacity to support the full development. The City of Colton used this information to plan a phased approach with the developer to accommodate the sewer system improvements.

Interior of a Lift Station

With even faster population growth on the horizon, the City of Harrisburg needed similar services. Known as the fastest growing city in South Dakota, Harrisburg faces challenges supporting that growth with their infrastructure. Adding a new area requires significant time investigating, evaluating, and planning options for expanding the sewer system. Adding multiple areas requires a strategy. Banner recently completed a long-range sewer system expansion study for the City of Harrisburg, detailing options to provide sewer service to 9,865 acres of future development land. Hydraulic modeling of the sewer system helped determine optimal and cost-effective pipe locations, sizes, and depths to provide sewer service for the area. From the model, we also:

  • Established when existing sewer piping would reach capacity and require upsizing.
  • Verified installation of large-diameter gravity sewer would allow the City to eliminate three sewer lift stations.
  • Determined a sewer cross connection between basins was the most cost-effective alternative because it reduced downstream sewer pipe size requirements and demonstrated a portion of the existing trunk sewer could convey projected flows.
  • Evaluated the ability to use dual, parallel sewers to phase installation and spread out the project cost.

Colton and Harrisburg are two cities among dozens we have helped with Hydraulic Modeling. From determining if / when upsizing and upgrades are necessary to the impacts of new development and industry on sewer systems, Banner uses sewer modeling to help our communities determine the best course of action for each individual situation. Ready to bring a positive change to your community? Contact us to get started—we look forward to Engineering A Better Community with you!