Fluvial Modelling Standards (FMS) - developing new guidelines

The objective of this project was to create a unified set of guidelines for modelling practitioners and reviewers to enhance consistency across the flood modelling industry, and to develop a model review tool.


The challenge presented was to answer the question of “how good is good enough” in the world of fluvial non-real time hydraulic modelling. New reporting had to be accessible and comprise technical advice backed up by published literature. The review tool had to use a model grading system and be suitably streamlined to be applied on the Environment Agency’s back catalogue of models.


Initially, a literature review was developed, forming an appraisal of highly relevant documents from the Flood and Coastal Risk Management community, including the Flood Estimation Guidelines and Fluvial Design Guide. The review enabled the project team to state the current level of knowledge.

Following this review, the new standards were written in the following format:

  • Source: methods to estimate the source of water entering a fluvial or sewer system
  • Pathway: approaches to represent river channels, sewer networks and floodplains
  • Receptor: approach to represent flood receptors (buildings and infrastructure)
  • Modelling approaches: covering all aspects of hydraulic modelling not captured in the above.

Environment Agency project teams and external stakeholders including other NGSA framework consultants reviewed the document. Feedback was discussed at a series of workshops before a final version was produced and approved. The technical guidance and associated documents remain available on request from the Environment Agency and are recommended for all modelling practitioners.

Accompanying the new FMS is a Fluvial Model Assessment Tool (FMAT). This tool compliments the Environment Agency’s current set of tools used for quality assurance of models and enables non-technical reviewers to assess model quality and condition of hydraulic models.


Upon completion, the tool was tested on 12 existing hydraulic models, ranging in size, type and complexity. The conclusions from this process were presented in the accompanying Fluvial Model Assessment Tool Guidance (FMATG) document.

The accessible version of the Fluvial Modelling Standards can be found here. The Fluvial Model Assessment Tool and the tool guidance can be requested by emailing the Environment Agency enquiries service.

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Want to know more?

Contact Kevin Haseldine for more information about this project.


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Technology, Data and Software Development

Delivering transformative technology that is pioneering in the pursuit of flood, water and environmental resilience.

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Modelling and Assessment

Developing leading resilience strategies and solutions founded on the integrated modelling and assessment of water quantity, quality and environmental processes.

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Working within a robust and mature digital delivery environment, our engineering specialists work closely with our modelling, hydrology and environmental teams to ensure designs are developed to create efficient, low-carbon and sustainable solutions.

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