GIS in Water Resources

Fall 2012


CE 394K.3

University of Texas

Tue - Thur, 12:30-2 PM, ETC 5.148
Tue – Thur, 2-3:30PM, ECJ 9.236

Unique Nums: 15940, 15942

CEE 6440

Utah State University

Tue- Thur, 11:30-1 PM

ENGR 401

Optional Lab Friday 11.30 to 12.30 ENGR 305

Catalog Number: 41318

CIVE 898

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Tue- Thur, 12:30-2 PM

Scott Engineering Ctr 111 (City campus)


David Maidment

Office: ECJ 8.610

University of Texas

Phone: (512) 471-0065

Fax: (512) 471-0072

Office Hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 10:30AM – 12 noon


David Tarboton

Office:  UWRL 103,

Utah State University

Phone: (435) 797-3172

Office Hours:  Tuesday, Thursday 1-2 PM.


Ayse Kilic

Office:  311 Hardin Hall. UNL

Phone: (402) 472-8024

Office Hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 2-4 PM  



Course Description
Application of Geographic Information Systems in Water Resources.
Digital mapping of water resources information. Spatial coordinate systems. Hydrologic terrain analysis using digital elevation models. River and watershed networks. Soil and land use mapping. Flood hydrology modeling and flood plain mapping. Integration of time series and geospatial data. Hydrologic Information Systems.

Graduate standing in engineering or a related discipline.

Course Objectives

The six course exercises are intended to enable you to be able to:

  • Plot a map of a hydrologic region including measurement sites and associate it with time series of data measured at those locations;
  • Develop a Hydrologic Information System that links time series of water observations to locations where the measurements are made
  • Create a base map of a study region including watersheds, streams, and aquifers by selecting features from regional maps;
  • Interpolate measured data at points to form raster surfaces over a region, and spatially average those surfaces over polygons of interest;
  • Do hydrologic calculations using map algebra on raster grids;
  • Build a geometric network for streams and rivers;
  • Analyze a digital elevation model of land surface terrain to derive watersheds and stream networks;
  • Use remote sensing information in ArcGIS


Course Web Sites

University of Texas.  

Public web site: This contains the course outline, PowerPoint presentations, class exercises for the course and University of Texas specific information such as UT student work and term papers.  

An archive of the video of each class in Windows Media format will be provided:


Utah State University.  This contains copies of the course outline, PowerPoint presentations, class exercises, and other USU specific information such as USU term paper and student work.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln  This website contains copies of the course outline, PowerPoint presentations and class exercises, and other UNL specific information such as UNL term paper and student work.


Method of Instruction
The course has six elements: lectures, assigned reading materials, homework exercises, a term paper, class interaction, and examinations. All students will prepare a term project in Adobe pdf format that will be posted on the course web site. 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.


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 PDF on the world wide web that will be informative to you and to your classmates.


The steps in carrying out the project are:


  1. Identify your course web page.  At Texas, I’ll establish a class web page and put your materials on that.  At Utah a web page will be established for you on the CEE Server for the Geomatics lab.  See the USU class web site for instructions on accessing this. At UNL a web page will be established for you.  See the UNL class web site for instructions on accessing this.
  2. Prepare a 1-page proposal in PDF on your website by Thurs Oct 4 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. Prepare a 2 page status report on your project to be posted on your website by Tues Oct 30.  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.  This report will be read and commented on by the instructor, and perhaps other students.
  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 PDF on your web page by the last day of classes (Dec 7). 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.  Generally team-based term projects are hard to unscramble at the end when it comes time to present the oral and written versions of your term project, so it’s probably best to just do an individual term project.


Archives are available showing the reports from more than 200 term papers done by students in this course from Spring 1997 to last year. See:

Course Computer Environment

This course uses the ArcGIS version 10.1 software.  The Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst extensions of ArcGIS will also be used in the course. These programs run under the Windows operating system.

Texas.  ArcGIS is available in the Civil Engineering Learning Resource Center. You may want to get a magnetic card so that you can enter the LRC in the evenings or weekends. If you work at the LRC, you'll be assigned a standard amount of disk space for your personal use.  You will also be issued license file to authenticate ArcGIS Desktop 10.1 operating on your own desktop computer, with the software being downloaded from a site located in the LRC. 

Utah.  ArcGIS is available in the Engineering PC lab, ENGR 305. 

Nebraska: ArcGIS is available in the College of Engineering Lab in Nebraska Hall (City Campus).  


If you have access to the software elsewhere, you can do the computer assignments at that location. You should plan to back up your work on a removable drive (e.g. zip or thumb) to avoid complications from lack of disk space in your personal area.


Course Readings

Readings for this course will be given out as in-class handouts, links to resources on the web, and written synopses of class lectures.


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%


The midterm exam will be an in class exam.  The final exam will be a take home exam handed out during the last class and due 1 week after the last class.  This final exam will include project type GIS analysis as well as essays and short reports that synthesize material from the class and from the term projects of other students in the class.


Letter grades will be assigned as follows:


A = 95 – 100%

A- = 90 – 95%

B+ = 87 – 90%

B = 83 – 87%

B- = 80 – 83%

C+ = 77 – 80%

C+ = 73 – 77%

C- = 70 – 73%

C- = 60 – 70%

F < 60%


There will be no make-up exams or incomplete grades in this course. We reserve the right to change the date of an exam with notice in advance.   The final exam will be a take home distributed in class on Thursday Dec 1 and due in a week later.  Special arrangements for submitting the solution electronically for students travelling during that that week can be established.   Class attendance will not be recorded in this class and will not form part of the criteria for establishing grades.   All lectures are videotaped and the lecture can be viewed  from the archive whose web address is given elsewhere in this syllabus.

Course/Instructor Evaluation Plan

Course/Instructor evaluation will be conducted separately at each University according to the policies of each University. 

Texas.  Forms will be distributed during the final lecture period. 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.

Utah.  USU will use the IDEA system for student evaluations.  You will receive email from the university with instructions for how to fill out evaluations online.

Nebraska.  UNL students are not going to use paper-based evaluation forms. Rather, students will receive an email with a link to evaluation website. In addition, there is going to be a link to evaluation website via blackboard.


We also encourage students to speak to us during the semester, and are open to suggestions relating to the course.


Students with Disabilities

Texas. The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.   For more information, contact the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259 (voice) or 232-2937 (video phone) or

Utah.  Students with ADA-documented physical, sensory, emotional or medical impairments may be eligible for reasonable accommodations.  Veterans may also be eligible for services.  All accommodations are coordinated through the Disability Resource Center (DRC) in Room 101 of the University Inn, (435)797-2444 voice, (435)797-0740 TTY, or toll free at 1-800-259-2966. Please contact the DRC as early in the semester as possible. Alternate format materials (Braille, large print or digital) are available with advance notice. 

Nebraska: The University of Nebraska provides upon request appropriate adjustments for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, 132 Canfield Administration Building or contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 472-3787.


Course Drop Policies

University of Texas

From the 1st through the 4th class day, graduate students can drop a course via the web and receive a refund.  During the 5th through 12th class day, graduate students must initiate drops in the department that offers the course and receive a refund.  After the 12th class day, no refund is given.  No class can be added after the 12th class day.  From the 13th through the 20th class day, an automatic Q is assigned with approval from the Graduate Advisor and the Graduate Dean.  From the 21st class day through the last class day, graduate students can drop a class with permission from the instructor, Graduate Advisor, and the Graduate Dean.  Students with 20-hr/week GRA/TA appointment or a fellowship may not drop below 9 hours.

Utah State University

Students may drop courses without notation on the permanent record through the first 20 percent of the class. If a student drops a course following the first 20 percent of the class, a W will be permanently affixed to the student’s record. Under normal circumstances, a student may not drop a course after 60 percent of the class is completed. (Check the Registration Calendar for exact dates.)

Class Schedule



Day and Date




Thu, Aug 30

Introduction to GIS in Water Resources.  Review the course curriculum, course outline. 



Tue, Sep 4

Introduction to ArcGIS.



Thu, Sep 6

Exercise 1: Introduction to ArcGIS



Tue, Sep 11

Data sources for GIS in water resources



Thu, Sep 13

Exercise 2: Building a base map



Tue, Sep 18

Geodesy, map projections and coordinate systems



Thu, Sep 20

Spatial analysis using grids



Tue, Sep 25

Exercise 3:  Spatial analysis in hydrology



Thu, Sep 27

Digital Elevation Based Watershed and Stream Network Delineation.



Tue, Oct 2

Exercise 4:  Watershed and Stream Network Delineation. 



Thu, Oct 4

Imagery and Remote Sensing.  Term project proposals due - posted on your web site



Tue, Oct 9

Exercise 5: Use of Remote Sensing data in ArcGIS



Thu, Oct 11




Tue, Oct 16

Midterm Exam[UNL Fall Break, class optional for UNL students]



Thu, Oct 18

Arc Hydro for Groundwater  [USU Fall Break, class optional for USU students]



Tue, Oct 23

Arc Hydro for Groundwater  



Thu, Oct 25

Network analysis, Arc Hydro, and NHDPlus 



Tue, Oct 30

ArcGIS and hydrologic modeling  Term project status report due - posted on your web site.



Thu, Nov 1

GIS Data Sharing and ArcGIS Online



Tue, Nov 6

Extending ArcGIS using programming



Thu, Nov 8

Hydrologic Information Systems



Tue, Nov 13

World Water Data Online



Thu, Nov 15

Lidar-based advanced terrain analysis



Tue, Nov 20

Presentation of Term Papers


Thu, Nov 22



Tue, Nov 27

Presentation of Term Papers [USU separate presentations]



Thu, Nov 29

Presentation of Term Papers [USU separate presentations]



Tue, Dec 4

Presentation of Term Papers



Thu, Dec 6

Presentation of Term Papers, Course evaluation, discussion of final exam