GIS in Water Resources

Fall 2004


General Course Information:

CE 394K.3 GIS in Water Resources

Tuesday- Thursday, 12:30-2PM

ETC 5.148

Unique Number: 14845

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, 2-4 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 Blackboard 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 video presentation of the lecture presented here at UT Austin.    Dr Tarboton will present a set of lectures in this course on spatial and terrain analysis using grids 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 23 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 26. 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 3). 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 150 term papers done by students in this course from Spring 1997 to Fall 2003. See:

Course Computer Environment

This course uses the ArcGIS version 9.0 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: "Arc Hydro: GIS for Water Resources” Ed by David R. Maidment, published by ESRI Press, 2002,  $59.95  ISBN 1-58948-034-1, see   A recommended reference for further information is: "Modeling Our World", by M. Zeiler, ESRI Press, 1999, ISBN 1-879102-62-5 206 pages $29.95, see      


Course Outline


Class Number

Day and Date



Thurs Aug 26

Introduction to GIS in Water Resources


Tues Aug 31

Introduction to ArcGIS


Thurs Sept 2

Exercise 1: Creating a map with ArcGIS


Tues Sept 7

GIS data sources for water resources


Thurs Sept 9

Geodesy, map projections and coordinate systems


Tues Sept 14

Exercise 2: Building a base map of the Guadalupe basin


Thurs Sept 16

Spatial analysis using grids  David Tarboton


Tues Sept 21

Exercise 3:  Spatial analysis in hydrology David Tarboton


Thurs Sept 23

Terrain analysis using grids David Tarboton

Term Project Proposals Posted on your Web Site


Tues Sept 28

Exercise 4:  Watershed and Stream Network Delineation Exercise.  David Tarboton


Thurs Sept 30

Network analysis and Arc Hydro framework


Tues Oct 5

Exercise 5: Working with Networks and Arc Hydro


Thurs Oct 7

New approaches to hydrologic modeling in ArcGIS


Tues Oct 12



Thurs Oct 14

Midterm Exam


Tues Oct 19

3D Objects and ArcScene


Thurs Oct 21

Exercise 6:  3D Objects, ArcScene and Groundwater


Tues Oct 26

Reports on Progress with Term Papers


Thurs Oct 28

Geostatistical analysis


Tues Nov 2

Linking Arc Hydro with water resources models


Thurs Nov 4

Terrain analysis using Triangulated Irregular Networks


Tues Nov 9

Time and Space in ArcGIS


Thurs Nov 11

Nonpoint source pollution


Tues Nov 16

Presentation of Term Papers


Thurs Nov 18

Presentation of Term Papers


Tues Nov 23

Presentation of Term Papers





Tues Nov 30

Presentation of Term Papers


Thurs Dec 2

Presentation of Term Papers

Course evaluation, discussion of final exam