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"Flood Modeller allows us to turn data into outputs in a very short timeframe. The ability to easily make changes to a model allows us to trial different site layouts and different defence designs, enabling us to adapt to changes in client demands or projects with ease."

Dr Colin O'Reilly, Managing Director
Envirologic Limited, Dublin, Ireland

Q&A

Can you tell us a little bit about Envirologic and the services you provide?

Envirologic is an environmental consultancy based in Dublin with core competencies in hydrology and hydrogeology.

About 50% of our work is preparation of flood risk assessments with the remainder primarily managing water in quarries and preparation of EIAR chapters.

With regard to flood risk, we are typically engaged by architects and engineering consultancies at planning stage for developments. Projects range from one-off houses for private individuals to wetland design for local authorities to solar farms for large multinationals. Flood risk assessments (FRAs) are mostly used to inform site layout, specify design levels and devise solutions where flood risk remains an issue.

 

What’s your role within the company?

I established the company in 2010 and act as Managing Director.  We currently have a team of four and our work brings us all over Ireland.

Screenshot of cross sections on a model built for a large solar farm proposal
Screenshot of a model built for a large solar farm proposal showing DSM data

Cross sections and DSM data on a model built for a large solar farm development proposal

You’ve used Flood Modeller on and off for a number of years, what made you take the leap and purchase the software?

We are all comfortable with 1D modelling under steady state flow conditions and had been using Flood Modeller Free for a number of years. We were getting more enquiries for larger-scale flood risk assessments which required higher resolution outputs.

Two of us visited the Jacobs’ office in London a few years ago to do the 2D modelling training course and we subsequently purchased the full licence.

There is an element of chicken and egg with any significant company purchase but as hoped the outlay covered itself quite quickly.

 

As a small consultancy, what are your challenges and how does Flood Modeller help address them?

One of the main challenges that we face as a small consultancy is achieving the right balance between being efficient with the amount of time that we spend on a project and ensuring that our clients and the local authorities have all of the information they need to make fair decisions. The quality and accuracy of the information we present is therefore a key factor.

Flood Modeller allows us to turn data that we collect in the field into outputs that we can share with our clients in a very short timeframe. The ability to easily make changes to a model once it has been developed allows us to trial different site layouts and different flood defence designs with ease, allowing us to easily adapt to changes in client demands and changes in projects.

The very visual nature of the Flood Modeller inputs and outputs also makes it easier to demonstrate the principles of the FRA approach to clients and what the end deliverables will be.

 

How has Flood Modeller enabled you to expand your modelling capabilities and deliver your projects more effectively?

We are now able to perform flood risk assessments for large scale developments. Being able to generate 2-dimensional flood flow animations makes it possible to devise very precise site layouts that will avoid flood risk areas.

 

What type of project wouldn’t you have been able to undertake without Flood Modeller?

About ten years ago, the state body with a remit for flood management in Ireland, the Office of Public Works (OPW), undertook extensive 2D flood modelling in Irish towns and cities most at risk of flooding.  Planning private development within these areas benefits hugely from compiling site-specific 2D flood models.  The OPW output helps to validate the model and the use of the site-specific model can then be manipulated to see what effect the development is likely to have on flow paths and flood patterns in the surrounding area.

Screenshot of a model built for a large solar farm proposal showing flood extents
Screenshot of a model built for a large solar farm proposal showing flood depths

Flood extents and flood depths on a model built for a large solar farm development proposal

What would you tell someone who's considering Flood Modeller?

Getting up and running requires a dedicated period of formal training and self-learning using the resources available online. We also made additional investment in surveying equipment to capture the most accurate input data and computer hardware for processing power. Once this is in place though, the long-term benefits in terms of the quality and accuracy of the information that we can deliver to clients means it has definitely been worthwhile.

 

In your opinion, what are the main benefits of Flood Modeller over other software?

Flood Modeller's user interface is very intuitive and easy to learn. The visual outputs from Flood Modeller which include animations of overland flood flow paths are extremely useful for explaining the fate of flood waters to a client.

 

What’s next in your flood modelling journey?

Flood Modeller likes data and we are always trying to upgrade the hardware and software we use to acquire this. Sometimes, it’s still hard to beat a pair of waders but recently we invested in a single frequency echosounder which is mounted onto a kayak alongside a Trimble receiver. Along with being much safer this is making data collection much more efficient and allowing us to survey larger river channels irrespective of flow conditions and time of year. We also do our own drone surveying so we now have good control on the quality of the raw data inputs.

I think we still have an awful lot to learn with Flood Modeller. Now that we have got to grips with the fundamentals of 1D-2D modelling we can begin to explore the nuances and fuller capabilities of Flood Modeller. This will likely require more training which to date has proven to be good value for money.

  

What about Flood Modeller surprised you the most?

The satisfaction you get when you see the first successful animation run of a complex model.

Colin collecting data in the field

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