A critical review of integrated urban water modelling – Urban drainage and beyond

Peter M. Bach, Wolfgang Rauch, Peter Steen Mikkelsen, David T. McCarthy, Ana Deletic

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Modelling interactions in urban drainage, water supply and broader integrated urban water systems has been conceptually and logistically challenging as evidenced in a diverse body of literature, found to be confusing and intimidating to new researchers. This review consolidates thirty years of research (initially driven by interest in urban drainage modelling) and critically reflects upon integrated modelling in the scope of urban water systems. We propose a typology to classify integrated urban water system models at one of four ‘degrees of integration’ (followed by its exemplification). Key considerations (e.g. data issues, model structure, computational and integration-related aspects), common methodology for model development (through a systems approach), calibration/optimisation and uncertainty are discussed, placing importance on pragmatism and parsimony. Integrated urban water models should focus more on addressing interplay between social/economical and biophysical/technical issues, while its encompassing software should become more user-friendly. Possible future directions include exploring uncertainties and broader participatory modelling.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Modelling & Software
Pages (from-to)88-107
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Decision support
  • Integrated urban water management (IUWM)
  • Inter-disciplinary modelling
  • Model integration
  • Uncertainty
  • Urban water systems

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