Free Software for Hydrology

Delft Dashboard for coastal data (Daniel Rodger)

The Delft Dashboard is standalone software that can be used as a Graphical User Interface to set up coastal models, access a range of free data, and process cyclone + tsunami input files. 

Where to get it:

How free is it:

Completely free!

Is there any support:

There are webinars: See webinar 7 & 8 from:

There is a forum:

What can you use it for:

  • Downloading bathymetry of varying resolutions anywhere in the world
  • Estimating tidal signatures for anywhere in the world
  • Setting up Delft3D, XBeach and SWAN models
  • Generating cyclone wind files from any track
  • Generating Tsunami data.

Delft FEWS for early warning systems (Lindsay Millard)

Earlier this week you’ve demonstrated Delft-FEWS to the Brisbane modelling community, thank you for that! Afterwards, you’ve received some questions on the status and availability of Delft-FEWS. I hope the summary below clarifies matters. Feel free to share this information with others.

Delft-FEWS – philosophy

Delft-FEWS is an open and freely available platform. It’s open in the sense that you can build a model adapter to any model you like, and run it in Delft-FEWS. It also is able to read in over 300 different data formats. Furthermore you can create your own data import or data transformation. And an important aspect of the openness, is that the development of the software is fully driven (and funded) by the user community. However, Delft-FEWS itself is closed source software.

Delft-FEWS – availability

The software can be downloaded from the website, where it states it can only be used for research and demonstration purposes. The software you can download is what we call a “stand alone” Delft-FEWS only. This can be used to set-up a fully functional Delft-FEWS “front-end”, including all the data processing, model running, and reporting you want to do.

For full operational use, you need the software for the “back end” as well, which will allow you to schedule tasks, connect multiple machines to do the work if need be and add the robustness to the system need for an operational system. This part cannot be downloaded directly, but can be requested from Deltares. In most cases we will jointly define a implementation project for installing and configuring the client-server system. We do ask you to sign a license agreement though, which will state what you’ll use the software for. There’s no license fee you are required to pay, and thus you are not restricted to a certain amount of users of the system.

Delft-FEWS – support and maintenance

If Delft-FEWS is used in an operational setting by an end-user, we will also encourage you (but not require you) to get a Support & Maintenance contract with Deltares. We provide this service both to end-users directly (mostly when we’ve been involved in the set-up of the system), or to consultants who set up systems for their clients with which they will have an S&M contract themselves. The costs of such a S&M contract are based on the size of the system, and the amount of support we expect you’ll need. This is always based on a conversation with yourself, and we tend to be quite flexible here. With an S&M contract you get access to patches throughout the year, as well as one of the official releases (released twice a year). The releases contain all developments added at request of all users in the last period.  Happy to provide more information on this if required.

Delft-FEWS – further information

Here are some links that might be useful.


Download + training:

Advanced training: 

Delft-FEWS user days:


The training material is available online. If you are interested in using Delft-FEWS in projects, I can provide you with a two day training to help you get started. Often we help consultants on their way with some training-on-the-job by co-developing the first (few) systems. This has proven to be a very efficient way to transfer knowledge.

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HEC suite for hydraulics (Martin Jacobs)

Where to get it:

How free is it:

Totally free. US Government Policy states that software development by the US Government or its agencies will be free to use.

Is there any support:

Not from the US Government or USACE. However, USACE will respond to reports on bugs.

Some consultants offer paid support, but they are not well represented in Australia. Krey Price is a private consultant in WA who offers training in HEC-RAS.

So, practically, most practitioners will need to do DIY learning. This presents difficulties in learning some of the basic concepts, or in choosing which program is best suited for your problem. 

What can you use it for:

  • HEC-DSS – Data storage system
  • HEC-DSSVue – Browser for HEC-DSS, and can be used to superimpose graphs (e.g. hydrographs before and after detention basin)
  • HEC-HMS – Hydrological node-link model with many options for different types of hydrological engines. Cannot pump water upstream. Also does pollutant transport
  • HEC-LifeSim – simulates evacuations from dam-burst scenarios
  • HEC-RAS – Most hydraulic engineers are familiar with HEC-RAS 1D. Some will be familiar with HEC-RAS 2D (HEC-RAS 5.0.5 has “real” culverts and bridges)
  • HEC-ResSim – Used to simulate reservoirs, including rules on releases from dams. May be able to pump water upstream.
  • HEC-SSP – Statistical Software Package – for post-processing, including LPIII and flow duration curves (equivalent to FLIKE?)
  • HEC-WAT – Modelling integration interface that runs most the above packages as plug-ins. Can be used for Monte-Carlo and multiple-case simulations

In summary, the HEC suite will do everything the flood modeller needs, except modelling overground/underground systems (USACE has no plans to include underground pipe systems in its models). It is produced by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which draws from the US Geological Survey and other learned organisations.

Other links of interest

Bulletin 17c – deals with flood frequency analysis

Really advanced problems, using HEC-WAT and Monte-Carlo

QGIS for spatial analysis (Dan Knott)

Where to get it:

Click download now, then download the standalone installer. It’s time to move to version 3.4, as of early next year it will be the new Long Term Release.

With the Plugin builder you can make a few different types of plugins, based on what you are tying to do i’d recommend the “Tool button with dialogue” option and keep it simple. From there i think the best bet is to work your way through the code and see how it all links together.

How free is it:

100% Free, however the development if funded through sponsorships and donations. If you want to help but don’t want to do so with cash, you can also help with documentation, reporting bugs or developing plugins. See the Get Involved page.

Is there any support:

There’s plenty of support on the QGIS website, including user guides and tutorials. Most of these will still be referring to QGIS 2.18, but they should be updated to version 3 for the long term release early next year.

There are also full guides here for plugin development at the site. I would also recommend looking for answers on the gis stack exchange and reading any QGIS blogs you find. Start with the QGIS Planet which will link you to a bunch of different QGIS blogs. I’ve learnt about most of the best QGIS features from these blogs.

What can you use it for:

  • Automated mapping
  • Producing 3d views and flythrough animations
  • Loading any web mapping service (there is almost always a way)
  • Setting up geospatial layers for modelling
  • Viewing model results
    • In QGIS 3.4 mesh results such as XMDF can be loaded without a plugin:
      • Add 2dm as a Mesh layer with the browser
      • Right-click and open Properties
      • From Source tab > Assign Extra Dataset to Mesh
      • Point to your DAT or XMDF files.
    • Yes this is much more annoying than before, but with the changes it has opened the ability for anyone to write plugins to deal with mesh layers.
  • Processing catchments with gdal and saga
  • Merging and resampling large imagery and dem datasets
  • Scripting and automating anything with python

TLDR; Everything that you are currently using payed GIS packages for, you can do in QGIS.