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WaterResourcesManagement 10: 251-277, 1996.

@ 1996 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in

Water Resources: A Review
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Drinking WaterResearchCenteKFlorida
International University, University Park, VH 160, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.

(Received: 5 December 1994; acceptedin final form: 28 February 1995)

Abstract. Increasing public awareness,strictermeasuresand promulgation of new laws in the areaof

water resourceshave made the use of advancedtechnologiesindispensable.GeographicInformation
Systems(GIS) are an effective tool for storing, managing, and displaying spatial data often encoun-
tered in water resourcesmanagement.The application of GIS in water resourcesis constantlyon the
rise. In order to stressthe importance of GIS in water resourcesmanagement, applicationsrelated to
this area are addressedand evaluatedfor efficient future researchand development. Fundamentalsof
GIS are summarized and the history of the GIS evolution in water resourcesis discussed.Current
GIS applications are presentedincluding surfacehydrologic and groundwater modeling, water supply
and sewer systemmodeling, stormwater and nonpoint sourcepollution modeling for urban and agri-
cultural areas, and other related applications. Future researchand development needsare presented,
based on these reviews.
Key words: Geographic information systems(GE), modeling, hydrology, surfacewater, groundwa-
ter, water supply, sewer design, agricultural pollution, nonpoint sourcepollution.

1. Introduction

The recentexplosion of computer technology has not only made it possible,but

also easier to develop computer applications to addressthe problem of storing,
manipulating andanalyzinglargevolumesof spatialdatarelatedto waterresources
problems. Presently,many organizationsfrequently use GeographicInformation
Systems(GIS) to forecasteffects relatedto the spatial variability of data (Leipnik
et at., 1993).
Becauseof the spatialnatureof the requireddata,GIS canbeutilized effectively
in water resourcesmodeling. It has been used to predict and monitor nonpoint
sourcepollution from agricultural areasandurban environments;to monitor flow
and pollutants in storm sewer networks; and to assist with contingency plans
and environmental impact assessments,among others.Herein, the fundamentals,
evolution, and application of GeographicInformation Systems,related to water
resourcesmanagement,are presented.Future researchand developmentalneeds

* Author for correspondence.


are also discussed based on problems commonly encountered in implementing GIS

in water resources modeling.

2. Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems

GIS is defined as a system of capturing, storing, manipulating, analyzing, and

displaying spatial information in an efficient manner. It can be characterized as
a software package that efficiently relates graphical information to attribute data
stored in a database and vice-versa (Kurt et al., 1993). GIS provides tools to
improve efficiency and effectiveness when working with map and non-graphic
attribute data. Although different GIS software may vary in capabilities, most
contain the following components (Marble, 1984):
l A data input subsystem which collects and/or processes spatial data derived

from existing maps, remote sensors, etc. The data input is usually accom-
plished using computer tapes, digitizers, scanners or manual encoding of
geographically registered grid cells, points, lines, polygons or tables.
l A data storage and retrieval subsystem which organizes the spatial data in a
form that permits it to be quickly retrieved by the user for subsequent analysis,
as well as allows for rapid and accurate updates and corrections to be made
to the spatial database. Typical directories include: land cover, soils imagery,
topography, and water information.
l A data manipulation and analysis subsystem which converts data through user-
defined aggregation rules, or pruduces estimates of parameters and constraints
for various space-time optimization or simulation models.
l A data reporting subsystem which displays all or part of the original database,
as well as manipulated data, and the output from spatial models in tabular or
map form.
Three types of computer platforms are used to run GIS software. In chrono-
logical order of development they include mainframes, personal micro-computers
(PCs), and most recently, workstations. Mainframes are the oldest platform for
running GIS applications; they have complex operating systems and problems with
end-user access to the system. However, some users may find the large data han-
dling capabilities of the mainframe quite desirable. PCs are relatively inexpensive
and easy to use. However, they may be inadequate for handling large datasets with
the complex topology and numerous attribute relationships usually encountered
in water resources management (Leipnik et al., 1993). Workstations are the most
recent development and appear to be the workhorses of the ~OS, offering an
excellent combination between the ease of access and simplicity of a PC, and the
data handling power of a mainframe. Workstations provide the GIS users with
the means to handle large and complex datasets and other decision-support tools,
such as hydrologic models, statistical packages and optimization programs. Fig-
ure 1 shows a typical setup for a complete GIS system at the Water Resources
Laboratory of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Flori-

Fig. 1. Qpical water resourcesGIS laboratory (key: (1) Digitizing table; (2) scanner; (3)
personal computer with AUTOCAD/ArcCAD; (4) tape driver; (5) workstation with UNIX
ARC/INFO; (6) color printer; (7) personalcomputer with PCARC/INFO; (8) typical drainage

da International University in Miami, Florida, including both PC and workstation

capabilities, a digitizing table and a scannerfor input of extensivegraphicalinfor-
mation from maps, a tape drive for storing voluminous data, and laser and color
Data acquisition is the cornerstoneof a water resourcesGIS project. Various
dataacquisition options for hydrologic orientedGIS arepresentedby VanBlargan
and Ragan (1991b) including manual digitizing, commercial digitizing, satellite
products,andautomatedscanning.Data storagein GIS is always accomplishedby
using either vector data structureor grid cell data structure,also known as raster
format. A rasteror grid cell system describesa two-dimensionalgrid of rows and
columns, while a vector system describesthe spacein terms of points, lines and
polygons(Willeke, 1992;Mercado, 1991).A raster-basedGIS hasadvantagesover
a vector-basedGIS becausevirtually all types of data, including attribute data,
image data,scannedmaps,anddigital terrainmodels,can be representedin raster
form (Van Der Laan, 1992).However,which format to usedependsreally on the
specific application.

TABLE I. Summary of Important Historical Steps in Computer and GIs Development

Time Period Technical Development

Electronically based machines were first used.
First computer systems evolved from electronic multipliers and calculators: Auto-
mated Sequence Controlled Calculators (ASCC), Selective Sequence Electronic
Calculator (SSEC), UNIVAC, IBM 600 series computers.
Operating systems, high level languages, printing devices were developed to enhance
computer technology.
Display terminals were first installed on computer systems; first GIs systems and
basic spatial data handling techniques broke into the computkr technology; main-
frame computers were developed.
Mainframe and miniframe computers were popularized due to their large data hand-
ling and manipulation capabilities; improved GIs systems were developed due to
more advanced technology and were commercialized; personal computers were
Applications of GIs in natural sciences and engineering, technological breakthroughs
in the GIs technology; personal computers took a strong hold in computer market;
workstations were developed.
Continued implementation of GIs in engineering and water resources; workstation
popularity increasing; worldwide installations of GIs packages rose to an estimat-
ed number of 510,000, with an estimated 750,000 users; these numbers are still

1 INew Software Developed during Period / P
-Total New Software in Use
120 --

100 --
$ 80

1972-79 1980-85 1986-90 1991-present

Chronological Time Line

Fig. 2. Development of GIs industry over time.


3. Early and Present GIS Applications

Table I summarizesimportantbreakthroughsin the developmentof computersand

GIS. Figure 2 showsthenumberof variousGIS softwarepackagesdevelopedduring
certain chronological periods, as well as the total number of software packages
available from 1972 to present (solid line), showing a continuously increasing
trend.The figure hasbeenpreparedbasedon datacompiled by the GIS Worls, Inc.
The first geographicalinformation system was developedin Canadaduring
the 1960s. Initial GIS developmentwork was mainly done for the government
in responseto its data handling needs.A number of technical constraintshad to
be overcome. There was no efficient way to convert large numbers of maps to
numerical form, computer storagecapacitieswere too limited, processingspeeds
were very slow, and costs for thesetechnologieswere very high. Despite all the
technologicalconstraintsduring the sixties,many of the basictechniquesof spatial
data handling were inventedand appliedduring that period (Tomlinson, 1984).
Systemsin the seventiesbecamemuch fasterthanthosein the sixties asa result
of advancementin the computer industry; however,the functional capabilities of
these systems were no better than those of the sixties. It could be said that the
seventieswas an era of consolidation rather than innovation in GIS technology.
For example, in 1974 the Departmentof StatePlanning of the stateof Maryland
establishedthe Maryland Automated GeographicInformation (MAGI) system to
serve as an efficient and accuratetool to addressland use and natural resource
planning problems unique to Maryland (State of Maryland, 1979). Maps were
produced for natural resources,illustrating the existing and potential resource
areasdistinguishableby degreeof quality.
In the eighties,the pressurefor naturalresourcesmanagementcontinuedand so
did the demandfor GIS. It was estimatedthat more than 1000GIS and automatic
cartography systems were in existence in 1983 in North America (Tomlinson,
1987). In the early eighties, there appearedto be a widening need for GIS to
meet local, national, multinational, andglobal requirements.The eightieswere the
period of technologicalbreakthroughsin the developmentand applicability of the
At present,GIS has matured into an industry of its own. This development
can be measuredin the market, in the number of companies,and in academicand
professionaldisciplines utilizing it. Some indicators of theseadvancementsare
(Frank et al., 1991):
l The number of systeminstallationsdoublesevery two years;

l The annual growth rate of the GIS market is approximately 35 percent;

l A multitude of disciplines,including, but not limited to, geography,engineer-

ing, forestry,and computerscience,now emphasizeGIS;

l National researchcentersfor geographicinformation havebeen established;

l GIS classesare offered within university curricula (e.g., undergraduateand

graduateclassesare offered in the Departmentof Civil and Environmental
Engineering at Florida InternationalUniversity in Miami, Florida).

4. GIS Applications in Water Resources

Prior to performing actualsimulation, waterresourcesmodelingrequiresa number

of time consuming steps,including collection, compilation, storage,retrieval and
manipulation of spatial data. The spatial nature of data associatedwith water
resourcesis the single most significant factor contributing to the complexity of
data management.With their ability to combine a variety of data into an easily
understoodformat, GIS softwarecan drastically changethe way engineershandle
water resourcesmodeling (Denning, 1993;JetonandSmith, 1993).
Field data gathering,the critical first step in applying GIS to water resources
problems (Kovas, 1991), can generally be divided into two tasks. The first is
primarily obtaining groundcontrol to establishscalingandpositional relationships
throughout the project area.The secondis acquiring locations and attributes of
certain features in the field (e.g., manholes,water valves, and retaining walls,
among others),andcan be supplementedby photogrammetriclocation techniques
on projects with featuresthat arenot visible from aerialphotographs,such asinlet
casting,culvert size, and manholes.
GIS has evolved as a highly sophisticateddatabasemanagementsystemto put
togetherand storethe voluminous datatypically requiredin hydrologic modeling
(Bhaskar et al., 1992;Vieux et al., 1989).Compilation of geomorphicproperties
of drainagebasins,suchas drainagedensitiesandchannelfrequencies,canbe effi-
ciently doneusing GIS. The ability to characterizeandmodel the spatialvariations
in hydrological processesmakesGIS an effectiveaid for managingthe use of land
within a drainagebasin (StuartandStocks, 1993).The useof a model interactively
with GIS from a suitableplatform requiresshortrunningtime andresultsin almost
immediate turnaround.Smith et al. (1992)usedGIS to calibrateand verify a con-
tinuous simulation model aswell asan event-drivenmodel; they found it beneficial
in enhancingthe modeling efforts due to increasedaccuracy,andminimization of
humanerrorsand time.
GIS offers an effective spatial data handling tool that can enhancehydrologic
modeling (Zhang, 1990)through interfacewith sophisticatedmodels. Interfacing
is the meansby which two different systemscan communicateand interact (Tor-
boton, 1992).Interfacing processescan take place either within the GIS package,
asstand-aloneinterfacingprograms,or asfront-endprocessingwhich forms part of
the hydrological modeling system.Interfacingfrom within the GIS can be accom-
plishedby using the GIS programming(macro)language,a databaseprogramming
language,or both. Until recently,the use of sophisticatedGIS systemsand rela-
tional databasemanagementsystems(RDBMS) had beenlimited to only major

water resourcemanagementorganizationsbecauseof cost constraints(Weghorst

et al.,1992).
For water-relatedenvironmentalplanning and management,GIS is a valuable
andfrequently indispensabletool. It is usedfor documentation,management,stor-
age and visualization of spatial data,and for parameterizationof models (Kaden,
1993).GIS applicationsfeaturethe improved automationof traditional hydrologic
analysis,whereasotherstakeadvantageof the integrationpowerof GIS to combine
hydrologic datasets(Lanfear, 1992).In this context,GIS with and without model
interface has been applied to numerousareasincluding surfacewater hydrologic
and groundwatermodeling, water supply and sewerline design,and stormwater
and nonpoint sourcepollution modeling for urban and agricultural areas.These
applications arereviewedin detail in the following sections.


Surfacewater hydrologic modeling involvessimulationsrepresentingthe effectsof

rainfall-runoff on surfacewaterbodies,suchaslakes,canals,andrivers.Distributed
rainfall-runoff modeling requiresa large number of parametersto describelocal
topography,soil type, and land use,and can be substantiallyfacilitated by the use
of GIS (Brath et al., 1989).The key componentof hydrologic modeling is a good
understandingof the datadescribingthe system.Therefore,the accuracyremains
dependenton the accuracyof datainput (Tarboton,1992).Due to its datahandling
and manipulation capabilities, GIS is increasinglybeing usedas an interfaceand
data manager for hydrologic models (Terstriep, 1989). Stormwater runoff and
hydrologic analysis frequently utilize computer models, yet such analysis still
requiressignificant time andexpertisefor datapreparationandestimationof model
parameters(VanBlarganet al., 1991a).It is important to accuratelycharacterizea
citys storm drain systemaswell asidentify activities within watershedsimpacting
it (Lior et al., 1991). Geomorphiccharacteristicsof a watershed,suchas channel
length, watershedareasandwatershedparametersareautomaticallycomputedand
storedby GIS in the respectiveattributetables,asdefinedby the modeler (Bhaskar
and Devulapalli, 1991).
Keefer et al. (1991) investigatedthe effect of stream mode digitizing errors
on GIS-based estimates of polygon area and line length. Under nine different
accuracystandards,GIS-basedpolygon areaestimateswerefoundto beessentially
unbiased;however,line-length estimatesappearedto be biasedby digitizing asthe
standardwas loosened.Wanvick and Haness(1994) testedthe ARC/INFO GIS
to provide spatially related input to the HEC-1 hydrologic model. The tedious
and time consuming tasks of spatial averaging(basin area,averagerunoff curve
numbers, etc.) were performed efficiently by the GIS. In a similar application,
Moeller (1991) usedGIS to derivearea-weightedhydrologic parametersfor input
to the HEC-1 hydrologic model. Becauseof the needto measurethe areasof all

the intersections of the sub-basins, land use, and soils in a 600 square mile area,
the decision was made to employ GIS.
Eagle (1991) used GIS for interfacing with a real time hydrologic model com-
putation system (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers HECs Data Storage System). The
data stored in Data Storage System (DSS) is readily accessible by most ofthe hydro-
logic forecasting models. The DSS system is designed to handle water resources
data of various types, including streamflow, overland flow, and precipitation.
A GIS database was created by Bhaskar et al. (1992) using ARC/INFO and
consisting of all hydrological characteristics required to model rainfall-runoff in
a watershed. All coverages (soils, land use, basin and sub-basin boundaries, etc.)
were stored in different layers in the GIS. An overlay of any or some of the layers
can be easily mapped using GIS. A physically based geomorphic model, referred
to as watershed hydrologic simulation (WAHS) model, was used to simulate the
watershed hydrologic response. Compilation of various geomorphic properties of
drainage basins, such as drainage densities and channel frequencies, can easily
be done using GIS, although certain other parameters, such as stream orders and
distances of the first order streams from the gage, have to be computed externally
and input to the INFO files. Such information can readily be obtained using macros
written in Arc Macro Language @ML). It is apparent that the successful use of
GIS in the future will require development and use of macros to interface modeling
software with the GIS software.
The Maryland State Highway Administration installed a GIS structured for
hydrologic analyses with the objective of improving the efficiency and quality of
hydraulic design by providing engineers with the capability of quickly assembling
land cover, slope and soil data for any watershed in the state. These input parame-
ters are used to run the SCS-TR-20 hydrologic model for existing and proposed
watershed conditions (Ragan and Andrej, 1991; Ragan and Kosicki, 1993). This
system has been named GISHYDRO (GIS for Hydrologic Analysis).
Integrated hydrologic modeling is defined as the combined hydrologic mod-
eling of a surface water and groundwater system using comprehensive computer
models for each system. HSPF (Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN),
a surface water model, and MODFLOW, a ground water model, were used with
an evapotranspiration (ET) code developed for the conditions of the study area
(Ross and Tara, 1993). The study area was a phosphate mine site in Florida. These
three models were then linked through GIS. GIS performed complex map overlays
and spatial analysis to develop input data for the hydrologic data, provided the
linkage mechanisms between models, provided the conversion of the digital land
forms of different projections and scales to a standardized format (referred to as
geo-referencing), and finally provided post-simulation graphics output display and
spatial analysis for evaluating hydrologic simulation results.
The integration of GIS and a finite element model results in easily generated
design layouts incorporating man-made structures as well as natural features of
the terrain which are stored in the GIS database as new items available for further

GIS graphicaloperationsand representations(Cuhadarogluet al., 1992).A digital

representationof surfaceterrain storedin a GIS was usedas a primary input to the
model to do surfaceflow computations.The complexitiesof the urbanenvironment,
i.e., sharpbuilding comersandslopes,caneasilybe analyzedandrepresentedby the
geometrical flexibility of the finite element model. The successof the numerical
modeling is, obviously, related to the accuracyof data available about the area.
Shamsi et al. (1991) combinedremotesensingtechnologywith two different types
of GIS packages,raster-basedERDAS and vector-basedARC/INFO, to derive
the percentageof impervious areasfor different land cover classes.In a separate
study,Shamsi (1993) usedthe sametwo GIS packagesto estimatephysical input
parametersrequiredby the Penn StateRunoff Model (PSRM).
Triangular IrregularNetworks (TIN) havebecomea common tool for computer
modeling of terrain surfacesusingGIS. Their simplicity makesthem well suitedfor
computing the drainagecharacteristicsof a terrainsurface,suchasflow paths,flow
patternsandcatchmentareaboundaries(JonesandNelson, 1992a,b).Vieux (1991)
and Vieux and Westervelt(1992)developeda methodfor modeling direct surface
runoff using a combination of the finite element method and the ARC/INFO-
TIN module to representtopographyof a small watershed.The TIN module of
ARC/INFO treatsthe topographyas a setof triangles,eachpossessinga principal
slope anddirection or aspect.From the model results,flow depthspredictedby the
finite element analysis are linked with GIS to show the spatial distribution of the
flow depth as affectedby spatially variable infiltration, slope,and the Mannings
Stuebeand Johnston(1990)evaluatedthe potential of a particular geographic
information systemto assistin all stagesof modeling stormwaterrunoff. The GIS
usedin this study was GeographicResourcesAnalysis SupportSystem(GRASS),
a public domain GIS developedby the United StatesArmy Construction Engi-
neering ResearchLaboratory (USACERL). Land cover map layers were created
by combining vegetativeand land use layers and a separatelayer was createdfor
runoff volume. The desired watershedswere delineatedusing existing elevation
map layers andrunoff volumes were estimated.
Muzik (1992) predictedflood hydrographson ungagedwatershedsby interfac-
ing GIS with a model. BecausestandardGIS doesnot includeproceduresuniqueto
hydrologic modeling, a hydrologically orientedGIS wasdevelopedthroughwhich
flood hydrographsare predicted.A syntheticunit hydrographwas developedfor a
watershedfrom a regionalunit hydrograph.Rainfall abstractionsweredetermined
by the SCS runoff curve number(CN) method.Oncethe rainfall was incorporated,
GIS automatically determinedthe total depthof rainfall from regionalparameters.
GIS convertedinput rainfall to an excessrainfall hydrographby employing the
SCS curve number method. The discreteconvolutiontechniquewas then usedto
compute the direct runoff hydrograph.This GIS application illustrates two com-
monly encounteredproblems in flood hydrology: prediction of flood hydrograph
and prediction of a synthetic flood frequencycurve. This GIS system was found

to be operational not only for ungagedwatershedsbut also for watershedswith

limited accessibility.
Prediction of surfacerunoff is one of the most useful hydrologic capabilities
of a GIS system (DeVantierand Feldman, 1993).A county-wide stormwaterman-
agementprogramwas preparedby utilizing GIS techniquesin Polk county,central
Florida. The primary purposeof GIS utilization was to provide modeling sup-
port for hydrologic and hydraulic analysis.HEC-1, Flood HydrographPackage,
and HEC-2, Water SurfaceProfile Model, were usedto perform drainageanalysis
Erosion and sedimentationeffects were studiedthroughapplication of GIS in
1991 (Lee, 1991).The watersheddatabaseconsistedof a hydrographicmap, soil
maps, slopemap andland usedata.Watershedand sub-basinboundariesandloca-
tions of monitoring stationswere codedin the GIS. Two hydrologic models were
usedto interfacewith thedatabase.Lee concludedthatGIS will providean efficient
way to compile necessaryinput datafor varioushydrologic investigations.
GIS computer graphic displays of surfacewater resourcesconditions provides
a meansof valuation-by visualization (VBV) of alternativeplans.Johnson(1991)
used GIS display techniquesin the form of color-codedanimated displays for
reservoir levels and water quality analysesin a number of casestudies.VBV is
directed towards the incorporation of peoplesjudgement into the planning and
Surfacewaterhydrologic analysisis greatlyenhancedby the applicationof GIS
technology as reviewed above.Extensive spatial data associatedwith watershed
characteristicsand parametersare efficiently handled by the data handling and
manipulationcapabilitiesof the GIS, while the graphicalpresentationof all related
propertiesare well representedby the powerful mapping featuresof the system.
Manual workload is significantly reduceddue to the automation of parameter
estimationfor model inputs.


Water and sewer agencies are constantly looking for technologieswhich aid
in smooth and efficient operationsand provide higher levels of service. Plan-
ning, design, analysis,operationand maintenanceof water and sewersystemsin
metropolitan areascan benefit significantly from GIS technologybecauseof the
spatial natureof the datain such designproblems.Much of decisionmaking can
also be automatedthroughthe useof anexpertGIS (McKinney et al., 1992; 1993).
Such a systemautomatesthe processof solving regionalwater problems,and aids
in selectionof minimum cost alternatives(Lamie andWong, 1991).
Interfacing with a GIS can greatly enhancesewersystemmodelsby overcom-
ing their limitations in displaying graphical information (Przybyla and Kiesler,
1991).The capability to accuratelyforecastwaterdemandsandto match existing
and future supplies with thesedemandsplays a key role in water supply manage-

ment. Traditional methodsfor projectingregionalwaterdemandsignoretheunique

characteristicsassociatedwith consumersthataffect demand.Thesecharacteristics
include family size, property value, lot size, and soil properties,which vary from
onegeographicallocation to the other.The GIS approachimprovesthe accuracyof
the demandforecastsfor regionalwater resourcesplanningby taking into account
theseunique characteristicsassociatedwith each geographiclocation (Bishop et
al, 1991).Shamsiet al. (1992)usedGIS to predictfuture waterdemands.To derive
the potential developmentmap, a zoning map,a digital elevationmodel, andwater,
sewer and road network maps were usedto establishthe criteria wherebydevel-
opmentsmay occur in the future. Similar projections can be made for sewerage
flows in areasof rapid population growth. Kirschen et al. (1992) utilized the GIS
datahandling capabilitiesto estimatepresentandprojectedaveragedaily sewerage
flows from residential, commercial and industrial land uses.In southernCalifor-
nia, due to tremendousincreasein population,managementof the availablewater
resourceshasbecomemore difficult asthe requirementsfor water haveincreased.
For efficient managementof the SantaAna basinsresources,the Bureauof Recla-
mation and the SantaAna WatershedProject Authority developedthe SantaAna
GeographicInformation System (SAGIS).
GIS network tools are capableof analyzing routing and allocation problems.
Currentresearchefforts at Florida InternationalUniversity concentrateon applying
GIS in water distribution systemmodeling andanalysis.AUTOCAD/ArcCad GIS
is being used for this project. Maps containing the topological information about
the study areaarescannedasa raster(pixel image).This image is thenconvertedto
vector format by using the ArcScanpackage.Next, this singledrawing,containing
all the information, is separatedinto layers of interest,suchas a layer of waterline
network, one for roadways,drainageetc. Data, such as pipe length and diameter
related to each layer, are linked to the appropriateobject through the use of a
databasesoftware (e.g., Dbase IV). Once all such links are completed, various
simulations can be performed at any point in the network to predict and display
results,and make decisions.
Maintenanceof water supply networksis anotherimportant aspectof the com-
plete operation.A GIS for undergroundsystemsis almost entirely dependenton
existing pipe recordsof thesefacilities. Jacobset al. (1993)presenteda methodthat
usesgraphictechniquesto augmentleak datato developanaccuratepipe inventory.
The use of such a system greatly reducesthe time andeffort requiredto establish
a GIS databasefor waterdistribution networks.
A pilot project was carriedout for the WashingtonSuburbanSanitaryCommis-
sion in which a 594ayeredGIS databasewasdevelopedandwater andsewermaps
were digitized to developa full-scale databaseto manageover8,000miles of water
andsewerlines (Cannistra,1992).The StormwaterWastewaterIntegratedManage-
ment (SWIM) masterplan study is a joint effort betweenthe city of Cincinnatis
Stormwater Management Utility (SWMU) and the Metropolitan Sewer District
(MSD) of greaterCincinnati to solve current wastewaterand drainageproblems

and develop a coordinatedmasterplan for stormwaterand wastewatermanage-

ment through the year 2090 (Cowden, 1991).The SWIM master plan requiresa
GIS containing graphic and attributedatafor storm, sanitaryandcombined sewer
systems,and interfaced with a model for stormwater/wastewateranalyses.Some
of the stormwaterconveyance-and transport-relatedproblemsinclude sewerover-
flows andtreatmentplant overloading.GIS is a tool for determiningthe bestway to
decreasethe amount of stormwaterflowing throughsewers,anddeciding whereto
constructregional detention/retentionfacilities to minimize flooding and channel
the flow.
GIS was used to develop a master plan for the wastewatersystem in Albu-
querque(Giguere and Bockemeier, 1991).The efficiency of GIS was realizedin
its ability to bring togetherrelevantdata on sewercapacity and conditions from
existing databasesinto a geographicanalysis environment,creating reports and
viewing information. The masterplan forecastsfuture wastewaterflows, evaluates
existing treatmentand collection systemfacilities, developsa sewerrehabilitation
program, identifies and evaluatesalternativesfor expandingandextendingwaste-
water facilities, and preparesa phasedplan for implementing and financing the
required improvements. Similar demandswere met by New York City for their
sewer and water main distribution systems(Moutal and Bowen, 1991).The city
developedits first comprehensive,computer-assistedmapping techniques,a data-
basecollection methodology,andcomprehensivesewersystemmapsfor the region.
The automatedmapping systemwasdevelopedto updateall recordsanddevelopa
databasefor planning,designand operations/maintenance activities.


An amendmentto the USAs Clean Water Act requiresNational Pollutant Dis-

chargeElimination System(NPDES) permits for stormwaterdischargesassociated
with urban andindustrial activities. Section208 of this act requiresresourceman-
agersand plannersto developand implement area-widewater quality protection
Study of nonpoint source(NPS) pollution impactsrequiresthe integrationand
display of different spatial information, a task for which GIS is a suitablechoice
(Ventura, 1993).Resourcemanagersmust first identify thosecritical areaswhich
have severepollution problems, then prioritize these areasand target available
capital resourcestoward implementationof conservationprogramsand Best Man-
agementPractices(Tim et al., 1992).The attributeandspatialdatadevelopedusing
GIS allows the user to overlay coverages,analyzeand determinepollutant load-
ing rates and in turn prioritize and identify critical areasin a very efficient and
economical manner(DeBarry, 1991;Robinsonand Ragan,1993).
For NPS pollution control, integration of a distributed processmodel and a
GIS enhancesand supportsthe ability to make decisionsconcerningthe spatial
distribution processesoperating within the watershed.Improved knowledge of

spatial variation using GIS reducesthe uncertainty causedby spatial averaging;

for example,changein the land use significantly affectsthe runoff volume which
in turn impacts the receiving waterquality. GIS interfacein suchinstancesgreatly
simplifies the processof simulating such scenarios(Halley andRoss, 1993).
TerstriepandLee (1989)developeda GIS interfacewith the Illinois StateWater
Surveys QILLUDAS model. This model is being usedto economically simulate
urban runoff on a regional or a city-wide basis. Nonpoint sourcepollution from
an urban watershedwas determinedby interfacingGIS with pollution simulation
model AUTO-Q1 which is a combination of three programsknown as HYDRO,
LOAD, and BMP (Lee and Terstriep, 1991).This model was testedon a basin in
Illinois. To simplify the datacollection process,a GIS databaseandAML program
were developedto retrieve land use and soil data in a format suitable for model
input (Lee, 1992).
NPS model ANSWERS (Aerial Nonpoint SourceWatershedEnvironmentRes-
ponse Simulation) was interfaced with GIS to estimate erosion, deposition and
related hydrologic parameters(Joao, 1992).The information necessaryto run the
ANSWERS model includesprecipitation,soils, land use/landcover,hydrography,
and topography.Most of the datasetsneededfor the ANSWERS model were
representedin the vector format and capturedinto the ARC/INFO software for
entry into the available computersystems.The ANSWERS model was iteratively
run on the trials of the two hypothetical land developmentscenarios.Sediment
was the main NPS pollutant modeledby ANSWERS. The study demonstratedthe
feasibility of linking GIS to a hydrological model.
ARC/INFO network routines were used to analyze stormwaterrunoff in the
urbanenvironment,compute the cumulative time of concentrationat any point in
the networkanddeterminethe drainageareathatcontributesto theflow atthe select-
ed point (Djokic and Maidment, 1993).Tsihrintzis, Fuentesand Hamid (1994) are
in the processof applying ARC/INFO GIS to developmethodsin characterizing
urbanrunoff. An experimentalwatershedis usedto collect the representativewater
samplesof this watershedat different locations suchas catch basinsand outfalls.
Figure 3 presentsthe basemap of Florida InternationalUniversity with superim-
posedlayers including buildings, streetsandparking lots, wet retentionpondsand
the stormwater network system; the experimentalwatershedis a subareawith-
in the boundariesof Florida InternationalUniversity. State-of-the-artmonitoring
equipment is being used for data collection from severalindividual storm events.
HECs model STORM (StorageTreatment Overflow Runoff Model) and EPAs
SWMM (Surface Water ManagementModel) are being calibrated and verified
from the monitoring data to be applied to a larger areato characterizepollutant
concentrationin stormwater.GIS plays an important role in handling graphical
information and providing quick results in parameterestimations to simulate a
number of scenarios.

Fig. 3. Stormwater system GIS database.


Agricultural pollution is difficult to monitor because all pollution sources are non-
point in nature. Monitoring can be greatly assisted by the application of computer
modeling to predict water quality changes with a dependable accuracy. Model inter-
facing with GIS greatly simplifies modeling tasks. He et al. (1993) used AGNPS
(Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution Model) to evaluate the impact of agri-
cultural runoff on water quality in the Cass River of the Saginaw Bay watershed
in Michigan. The model was integrated with the Geographic Resources Analy-
sis Support System (GRASS) to generate parameters needed for AGNPS digital
maps, Management scenarios designed to minimize the sedimentation and nutrient
loading were explored by AGNPS.
Tsihrintzis, Fuentes and Gadipudi (1994a; 1994b), Gadipudi, Tsihrintzis and
Fuentes (1994), and Gadipudi (1994) interfaced ARC/INFO with HSPF to pre-
dict, map, monitor, and manage pollutants from agricultural areas. The study area
was the West Wellfield Interim Protection Area (WWIPA), located in west Dade
County in south Florida (Figure 4). Basic physical datasets included land use, land
cover, topography, water features (e.g. lakes and canals), soils, and boundary maps.
Meteorological data included precipitation, evapotranspiration, temperature, and
wind movement. Additional data included pesticide and nutrient application rates.
A GIS derived database automatically prepared the model input and handled spatial
and time series data, tables and text. Alternatives were studied utilizing GIS and


mu, ban I and

=Agr i cul t ur al
mBar,.n I and
Forasted I and
=Wat ar
IIIIIDRanoa I and
=Wat I and8

Fig. 4. Land use map for the West Wellfield Interim Protection Area in Miami.

the model to minimize agricultural impact without hinderingagricultural develop-

ment. These applications of GIS with water quality models enable management
agenciesto identify critical areaswithin a watershedandpromote the appropriate
agricultural managementpracticesto control nutrient andpesticiderunoff.
Evans et al. (1992) developeda GIS-basedmethodologyfor conductingrapid
assessmentsof pesticide and nutrient transport within agricultural watersheds.
This methodology is basedon the use of software interfaceswhich allow data
transferbetweenvariousGIS softwarepackagesandsurfacewater models.Due to
the powerful capabilities of GIS in databasemanagement,a statewideranking of
agricultural nonpoint pollution potential of 104 watershedsin Pennsylvaniawas
conducted(Hamlett and Peterson,1992).
Chen et al. (1994) used a UNIX-based GRASS GIS system and interfacedit
with the PhosphorousTransportModel to prioritize thephosphorousloadingsfrom
nonpoint sourcerunoff from agriculturalactivities in fields within a watershed.The
model predicts surfacerunoff volumes, sedimentyield, and sediment-boundphos-
phorousloadings to the streamon a daily basis.The integratedsystem allows the
userto enteror retrievedatato GRASS datalayers,transformdataformats between
theGIS andthemodel, executeGRASS commandsandrun thephosphorousmodel.
The system can effectively organizeand display model input and output dataand
providesa convenienttool for identifying areaswith potentially high phosphorous
sources,aiding in the application of best managementpracticesto minimize the
total phosphorousyield from the area.

The use of GIS in combination with other models helps in determining the
application of nutrients at uniformly optimum levels. Applying farm chemicals
where they are most necessaryis a cost-effectiveway to reduceenvironmental
hazards(Runyon, 1994).


The 1986amendmentsto the federalSafe Drinking Water Act establisheda Well-

head Protection (WHP) program to protect water-supplywells and well-fields
providing public water from contaminantsposing adversehuman effects. The
delineation of Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPAs) is the first steptowards run-
ning an efficient program. GIS technologyprovides a mechanismfor collecting,
maintaining, and making subsurfacedata available on demandfor groundwater
protection,resourcestudies,and engineeringdesign(Adams and Bosscher,1992;
Reeseand DeBarry, 1993).GIS has beenusedsuccessfullyin groundwaterprob-
lems by itself and interfacedwith other groundwatermodels (Rosset al., 1990).
GIS applicationsin groundwatermodeling arediscussedin this section.
Albertson and Williamson (1992) usedGIS to determinethe location of land
areaswhere the groundwaterlevel was high enoughto be impacted by land use
activities. Baker et al. (1993) createdRIGIS, a statewideenvironmentaldatabase
for RhodeIsland, which utilizes the ARC/INFO softwareand WHPA model. The
RIGIS databaseprovides stratified drift boundaries,surface hydrography,well
locations, water-tablecontours,and transmissivity isolines. Data from RIGIS is
run throughthe WHPA model which analyzesthe information andsendsthe output
backto RIGIS; RIGIS thenquickly andaccuratelytransformsthe model outputinto
a geographicallyreferenceddatalayer andproducesmap overlayswith the needed
information. RIGIS is expectedto dramatically revolutionizethe mannerin which
geographicinformation is usedto solve problems (Forkey et al., 1988).In larger
cities, GIS applicationshavegreatpotentialto sort and map potential contaminant
sourceswithin the wellhead protectionzone (Hall andZidar, 1993).
Rifai (1993) describedthe interfacing of System 9 GIS packageand the EPA
WHPA model using the WellheadModeling User Interface(WMUI). The WMUI
simply createsan intelligent buffer betweenGIS and the model to automatically
handledatacollection, conversion,and presentation.It also aids the userin devel-
oping input files to the WHPA model using well datacontainedin a GIS database,
and in displaying andretaininggeographicresultsfrom the model in the GIS data-
basefor future retrieval. The transferof datafiles to andfrom the GIS works in a
similar fashion.The WMUI convertsa plot file to a datatable that can be readinto
the GIS databasefor display purposes.
The GIS softwareGRASS wascombinedwith the DRASTIC modelandutilized
to identify the degreeof correlationbetweenthe susceptibility of groundwaterto
pollution and the availability of nitrogenfertilizer (Halliday andWolfe, 1991).GIS
facilitated the processbecauseof its capability of storingthe spatialcontext of the

datain the database.The input datafor the model included anagriculturalpollution

susceptibility map, county and stateboundarymaps, major aquifer outcropareas,
and the recommendednitrogen fertilizer application ratesfor the nine crops. The
county map layer was usedas the basedatalayer for graphically representingthe
cropping and fertilizer data.In this study the resultsconfirmed that GIS will be a
helpful tool in analyzing groundwatercontaminationproblems.
Adams et al. (1993) described a GIS application called WELLHEAD that
enables hydrologists, geologists, geotechnicalengineers,and water chemists to
view andretrievesubsurfacedatainteractivelyandgraphically.The systemincludes
a number of utilities such as interactivescreenforms for enteringdata, analytical
tools for conversionand compatibility amongusersand datasources.
A studywas donefor the DanubeRiver basinin Germanyto investigatepossible
effects of different river works variantson the naturalresourcesof the areaandthe
floodplain. A GIS databasewith 81 datalayerswas constructedfor the entirestudy
area,containingall necessaryinformation for thearea-relatedenvironmentalimpact
assessment(Schaller, 1992).Dynamic effects of impacts on ground and surface
water quality and conditions was doneby interfacingGIS with a two-dimensional
While the power of GIS has great potential, the accuracyand reliability of
a well-log-based application is solely dependenton a realistic evaluation of the
subsurfaceenvironment from available geophysicalevidence.Camp and Brown
(1993) developeda GIS procedureto target a modeling areaand interpolatethe
well-log databaseto create a three-dimensionalrepresentationof the subsurface
environment.Any number of cross-sectionalprofiles of three-dimensionalimages
of well-log data can be createdand viewed interactively.


All the applications discussedaboverepresenttypical water resourcesmodeling,

however,otherapplications,suchasfloodplain management,environmentalimpact
assessmentstudies,erosionand sedimentation,andhazardouswastesite locations,
arealso discussedhereinsincetheseapplicationsarealsoindirectly relatedto water
GIS softwareAUTOCAD/ArcCAD wasusedin a projectrelatedto the environ-
mental restorationof southFlorida drainagecanalsby creatinggreenways(Bueno
et al., 1995).Maps of variouslandscapesprior to urbanizationandotheragricultur-
al activities were overlaid andlinked with presentday map layersto calculateareas
lost overthe last centurydueto urbanandagriculturaldevelopment.Comparisonof
Figures 5 and6 revealsthe original landscapes(1850)andthe extentandimpact of
growth in both urbanandagricultural areas.Furthermore,areasthat canbe restored
along the drainagecanalsby developinggreenwaycorridors were calculated.The
proposedgreenwaynetwork is also shown in Figure 6. GIS was instrumental in

Fig. 5. Map of the historic (circa 1850) south Florida subregionsand landscapes(Bueno et
al., 1995)

visualizing and providing a model to evaluate the positive ecological impacts of

the proposed environmental corridors.
GIS is routinely used in preparing the environmental impact statements required
for identification and implementation of remediation plans for Super-fund sites
(Brown, 1991). Fisher (1989) interfaced GIS with HSPF to be used throughout
North America for environmental assessments and planning of watersheds in a
variety of hydrological settings. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Washington,
used GIS to develop an effective decision support tool to conduct phase I, II

Fig. 6. Map of current south Florida land use and canals(Bueno et al., 1995.)

and III environmentalassessments.Projectresultsindicatedthat GIS functionality

indeedprovides solutions to complex datamanagementproblemsassociatedwith
environmentalrestorationprograms(GraciaandHecht, 1993).
Reinelt et al. (1991)usedGIS capabilitiesto facilitate the managementof infor-
mation on spatialextent,types,systems,historicallossesof wetlands,dataon plants,
animals, soils, hydrology, and water quality. Contributions to wetland/watershed
analyseswere made in identifying the essentialattributesrequiredfor the varied
In another study by Hession and Shanholtz (1988), GIS was used with the
Universal Soil Loss Equation(USLE) to estimatethe potential sedimentloading to

streamsfrom agricultural lands.USLE hasbeenusedfor a long time in prediction

of soil erosion for given crops, managementpractices,soil types, topographyof
the areaandthe rainfall patterns.The resultsof GIS-derivedvalueswerecompared
with the valuesof manually calculatedprocedureandfound to be in agreement.
GIS, in combination with image processing,aerial photographyand remote
sensingtechnologies,wassuccessfullyusedto evaluatelossesandrebuildingefforts
requiredafter the midwestem USA floodsin 1993(Speed,1994).Flood hydrology
requiresthe characterizationof diversewatershedandmeteorologiccharacteristics;
GIS greatly influencesthe selectionof appropriatemethodsfor characterizationand
analysisin a particular project (WoodburyandJawed,1993).
Pandyaland Syme (1994)reportedthe applicability of the systemcalled MIKE
ll-GIS in floodplain managementin Bangladesh.Bangladeshis severely flood
prone, located at the delta of three major river systemswith a history of flood
peakrecords.This systemgenerates2-D and3-D waterlevel and flood inundation
mapsand contouringof flood depths.GIS providesanalysisof floods by providing
layers of information on infrastructure,land utilization, population density and
other relevant information storedin the users GIS. Advance warnings basedon
suchsimulations can be effectively usedin evacuationprocedures.
In responseto efforts to automateflood risk mapping, GIS applications are
being evaluatedto perform routine datacollection and mapping tasks(Cotter and
Greenwood,1989).Hydrologic modeling proceduresappliedto regulatoryflood-
hazardzonationcan be misapplied when assumptionsconcerningflood-hazardous
processesare violated (Baker et al., 1990). Model misapplication occurs when
real-world processesfor the model setting deviate from those assumedin the
model. A logical approachto addressthe operationalandproceduralrequirements
in floodplain managementis to integratea GIS into the floodplain management
process(DePodestaet al., 1992).
The Basin CharacteristicSystem (BCS) was createdfor the Iowa flood-estima-
tion studyby the USGS to quantify drainage-basincharacteristicsusing GIS (Eash,
1994).Comparedto manualmethodsof measurement,the BCS provided a reduc-
tion in the time requiredto quantify the selecteddrainage-basincharacteristics.
Improper wastemanagementleadsto direct or indirect contaminationof sur-
face and ground water resources.Therefore,location of waste disposalfacilities
becomes an important part of a decision making process.The New York City
Sludge ManagementFacility useda two-phaseapproachto identify potential sites
(Gyulavary and Lopez, 1991). The purposeof the first phase was to establish
industrial corridorsin the city and the geographyof the vacantland parcelswithin
industrial corridors. During the secondphaseof the study, GIS was employed to
identify specificland parcelsfor zoning andvacancy.The major benefitof building
a computerizeddatabasefor selectinga site for New York Citys sludgemanage-
ment facilities was the ability to consolidatevariousmaps of different scales.
Prior to disposinghazardouswasteinto the landfills andothersuitablefacilities,
the wasteneedsto be transportedto the facility. Selectingthe bestroute for trans-

porting hazardousmaterials requiresanalysis of many factors such as the types

of land use they passthrough, the amount of risk attributedto each feature and
the magnitude of the total risk of exposurein the event of an accident along a
particular route (Vieux and Kalyanapuram,1992).GIS can be applied to perform
spatialanalysis to help answersuchquestions.
In responseto the increasingneedfor quantitativeand objectiveassessments of
environmentalimpacts resulting from toxic substancereleasesin the environment
(e.g.,accidentaloil spills), Frenchet al. (1994)useda computermodel coupledwith
a GIS. The model estimatesthe GIS is usedto storeenvironmentaland physical
fate and biological effects of suchreleases.GIS is usedto storeenvironmentaland
biological data which can be convenientlyusedby the model.

5. Future Needsfor GIS Researchand Development Related to Water

Basedon the previous summaries,the following are researchneedsin the areaof
water resources:
l One difficult task in incorporatingGIS into water quality and water resource

modeling is the interfacing of water models with the GIS. Since theseinter-
facing tasks require developmentof other programsfor the two systemsto
communicate,the humanelementis involved.Automation of interfacingtasks
is one areato be researchedin incorporatingGIS and popular water models
(e.g., genericinterfaceroutineswhich work with variousmodels).The devel-
opment of customized GIS solely for the purposesof water resourcesand
quality modeling is anotherareafor GIS research.
l Data availability and compatibility seemsto be a big problem in implement-

ing and running any GIS system. Davis et al. (1991) discussedsome basic
scientific issuesand researchneedsin thejoint processingof remotely sensed
and GIS data for environmentalanalysis.As the useof GIS increasesin the
areaof water quality and water resources,spatialinformation should also be
more readily availablefor timely execution.Local authoritiesshouldestablish
centralized data banks for regions all over the country.These banks should
provide digitized mapsandotherspatialdatacompatiblewith varioussystems.
Such data availability could significantly speedup the analysesand decision
making processes.
l As the national infrastructurefor spatial datadevelops,new usersincreasingly

take advantageof the data in their operationalactivities. Limited resources

are driving researcherstowards thinking about the multipurpose use of our
information. The integration quality of GIS makes it particularly useful for
addressingmulti-scale research(Kelmelis et al., 1993).
l Development of a toolkit approachis neededto effectively manipulateboth

polygon- and grid-baseddata in water resourcesapplications (Males and

Grayman, 1992).

l Further researchis neededcomparingthe GIS packagesavailableon the mar-

ket andtheir positive andnegativeaspects,providing checklistsfor GIS users
(Rothman, 1991a,1991b).Sui (1992)concludedthat future researchagendas
shouldinclude the developmentof the most suitablemembershipfunction for
the geographicinformation and spatialdecisionmaking processes,which will
be instrumentalin explicit applicationsof fuzzy logic in geographicdatacol-
lection, storage/retrieval,analysis/manipulationand display/representation.
l The recent developmentof decision support systems (DSS) to assist with
waterresourcesdecisionmaking holdsthekey to integrationof GIS andwater
resourcemodes.Researchmust continueto addressuser interface,database,
and model-basedintegrationproblems(Walsh, 1992).
l Integration of expert systemsand GIS has not been much applied in water
resourcesand is certainly an area of potential researchto further enhance
the modeling process.Expert GIS systemscan be usedto provide regulatory
information by linking regulatoryfacts storedin a databaseto siteslocatedin
a GIS through an expert system query interface(Evans et al., 1993).Expert
system rules can also be employed to interrogatea GIS databaseand check
for completenessandconnectivity of databaseelements.


This study was partially funded by a grant from the Florida International Uni-
versity Foundation (FIU) and the Office of the Provost.Additional support was
given by the FIU Drinking WaterResearchCenter(DWRC). Specialthanksto Dr.
Thomas Breslin, Director of the Division of SponsoredResearchat FIU, and Dr.
William J. Cooper,Director of the DWRC. Mr. Rao Gadipudi,graduatestudentof
EnvironmentalEngineeringwith the Departmentof Civil andEnvironmentalEngi-
neeringat FIU, assistedin original literaturesearchandsummaries,andcompleted
the thesis: Evaluating the Effects of Agricultural Practiceson Water Quality by
Interfacing GIS with Computer Models under the direction of Dr. Vassilios A.

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