GIS in Water Resources

Fall 2002


General Course Information:

CE 394K.3 GIS in Water Resources

Tuesday- Thursday, 12:30-2PM

ETC 5.148

Unique Number: 14635

Principal Instructor:

David Maidment

Office Address: CRWR Bldg. 119 PRC

Telephone Number: (512) 471-0065

Fax Number: (512) 471-0072

E-mail:maidment @

Office Hours: Tuesday -Thursday, 3 -5 PM

Web Page:

Cooperating Instructor:
David Tarboton

Professor of Civil Engineering

Office Address: Utah State University

Telephone Number: (435) 797-3172

Web Page:

Course Description
Application of Geographic Information Systems in Water Resources. Digital mapping of water resources information. Spatial coordinate systems. Terrain analysis using digital elevation models. River and watershed networks. Soil and and land use mapping. Flood hydrology modeling and flood plain mapping. Terrain analysis for hydrologic modeling.

Integration of time series and geospatial data.

Graduate standing in engineering or a related discipline.

Course Objectives


  1. To teach the principles and operation of geographic information systems, focusing on ArcGIS and its Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst extensions.
  2. To develop a geospatial description of the water resource features of the landscape using the Arc Hydro data model
  3. To link this model engineering analysis of flooding, water pollution and water supply.
  4. To develop individual experience in the use of GIS in Water Resources through execution of a term project. The term project is presented orally in class and as a written report in html on the world wide web.


Course Web Sites


There are two web sites maintained for this course at the University of Texas.   The public web site is which contains the course outline, powerpoint presentations and class exercises for the course.   A private web site accessible only to students registered in the course is maintained at using the Prometheus web information system.   This site contains an archive of the video of each class.   A parallel course is held at Utah State University under the direction of Dr David Tarboton, whose students receive a streaming video presentation of the lecture presented here at UT Austin.    Dr Tarboton will come to Austin for a week in mid-semester to deliver a special set of lectures on terrain analysis and GIS in which he is an expert.


Method of Instruction
The course has six elements: lectures, assigned reading materials, homework exercises, a term paper, class interaction, and examinations. All students will have a web page where they will post their term paper proposal and final term paper. Part of the final examination will involve synthesis of the term papers presented in the class to provide an assessment of the state of knowledge in particular subject areas. The course material is divided into modules with each module having one or two lectures and a homework exercise involving extensive use of GIS software.


Method of Evaluation

Course grades will be based on a weighted average of results as follows:

Homework  20%

Term Project Written Report  30%

Term Project Oral Presentation  10%

Midterm Exam  20%

Final Exam  20%


Letter grades will be assigned as follows:


A = 90-100%

B = 80-90%

C = 70-80%

D = 60-70%

F < 60%


There will be no make-up exams or incomplete grades in this course. I reserve the right to change the date of a quiz with notice in advance.

Course/Instructor Evaluation Plan

Course/Instructor evaluation forms will be distributed during one of the final two lecture periods. A student from the class will be asked to distribute and collect the evaluation forms, and to return them to the Department of Civil Engineering office on the 4th floor of ECJ. I also encourage students to speak to me during the semester, and am open to suggestions relating to the course.


Students with Disabilities

The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate adjustments for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, or 471-4241 TDD


Term Project

The purposes of the term project are:


  1. To enable you to explore in-depth some aspect of the subject of personal interest to you and to develop experience in the use of GIS technology to solve that problem.
  2. To provide experience in the formulation, execution and presentation of original research, including the proper documentation of a GIS project.
  3. To make an oral presentation and produce a report in html on the world wide web that will be informative to you and to your classmates.


The steps in carrying out the project are:


  1. If you don't already have a personal web page, establish one at the Civil Engineering Learning Resource Center.
  2. Prepare a 1-page proposal in html on your website by Thurs Sept 26 specifying the objective of your project and outlining how you plan to go about executing it. Notify the instructor by email that your proposal is available and you will receive a response by email containing an assessment of the scope of work that you propose. After making any revisions in your proposal that seem necessary in the light of this assessment, this proposal defines the scope of your term project.
  3. Present a report orally in class and have a progress report presented on your web page by Tues Oct 29. You are expected to make some progress by mid-semester but the main effort on your term project in the later part of the course once you've learned more about the methods in the course.
  4. Present a final report orally in class near the end of the semester (you will have  10 -12 minutes for your presentation) and present your term paper in html on your web page by the last day of classes (Dec 6). It is critical that you post your paper by this date because your classmates may need to read your paper in order to complete their final exam.


If you would like to work in a group to pursue a term project, that is fine, but you must carry out a particular section of the project on which you will present your oral and written report.


A term paper library is available showing the reports from more than 100 term papers done by students in this course from Spring 1997 to Fall 2001. See:

Course Computer Environment

This course uses the ArcGIS version 8.2 software available in the Civil Engineering Learning Resource Center. The Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst extensions of ArcGIS will also be used in the course. These programs run under the Windows NT operating system. You may want to get a magnetic card so that you can enter the LRC in the evenings or weekends. If you have access to the software elsewhere, you can do the computer assignments at that location. If you work at the LRC, you'll be assigned a standard amount of disk space for your personal use. You should plan to back up your work on a zip drive to avoid complications from lack of disk space in your personal area.

Course Readings

The readings for this course will be taken from:


(1)  "Modeling Our World", by M. Zeiler, ESRI Press, 1999, ISBN 1-879102-62-5 206 pages $29.95, see         

(2)  "Arc Hydro: GIS for Water Resources” Ed by David R. Maidment, published by ESRI Press, 2002,  $59.95  ISBN 1-58948-034-1, see