How to CAD Modeling helping Water Distribution Systems

By using 3D modelling over the past 20 years, we have improved our engineer's ability to design, model, and fabricate complex parts for various industries. It covers automotive, aerospace, and biomedical. Let's say a tool that helps civil engineers, city planners, and construction crew to plan out networks for water distribution and wastewater management operations using a single mouse click. Such tools are readily available today and assist us in complex optimizations.

CAD Modeling helping

If we talk about network engineering, then they are a design of pressurized pipelines that is highly complex and require significant planning and understanding. It helps in regulations and design criteria. It is a highly time-consuming task that requires significant effort and prior knowledge with time.

Even with prior understanding, it offers cumbersome to meet the necessary design criteria. It includes a minimum pipeline slope, spacing between valves, and intersection with existing utilities. Along with adding other applicable quality standards to it.


Consider that your design comes with a water network along with a bottom-up approach. It uses the available water source and adds information on the constituent and tank-mixing in the design. Also, in such a scenario, the common questions might be:

  • How would the water system handle a fire?
  • What is the limitation of design in your water network?
  • Will there be enough water at each fire hydrant?
  • What happens if there comes excess flow from a particular location?
  • Will there be a sufficient flow of water that handles your system requirements?

CAD Modeling helping

The CAD programs use 3D modelling designed with complex water distribution systems. It provides the answer to the above questions. Bentley System's Water GEMS runs a stand-alone tool with MicroStation or AutoCAD tools. The Pipe Plan and Innovyze'sInfoWate tools offer a similar solution to it. The above tools are adopted by utility companies, municipalities, townships, and design engineers. They provide efficient design and optimization tools for water infrastructure and networks.

What are the advantages of using CAD to develop water distribution networks?

  • It comes with the ability to visualise the network in a 3D environment.
  • It offers the ability to model pipe pressures.
  • It helps in GPS tagging of the pipe network and existing pipes.
  • It allows designers to determine points of interference and avoid critical problem areas.
  • It has the ability to model-flow rate, loss nodes and pressures.
  • It is mainly used to design for high-flow conditions at a fire, which requires fire hydrants.


The CAD tools are most likely to be used in civil engineering planning and design. Salt Lake City is used in Utah, and Huntington Beach in California are the two cities that have adopted WaterGEMS software for designing, optimising, and maintaining their water distribution networks. Salt Lake City's water distribution network helps to serve almost half a million residents, including over 1,000 miles of pipes.

It uses a complete geographical information system (GIS) for its water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure. It is built into a model. It primarily uses WaterGEMS, a city currently building a hydraulic model for the water distribution system. It primarily uses existing data to update and maintain the city's expansion.

The tool mainly determines the optimal pipes that replace pipes. Some customers complained that the flow was insufficient during peak periods. They use guidance where the city can remediate the complaints. Further, they meet the fire department's flow requirement with 1500 gallons per minute for all fire hydrants along with high pressure.


CAD Modeling helping



WaterGEMS is a tool used primarily to design, analyse, and optimise water distribution systems. Several features are used, such as WaterGEMS, covering steady-state and extended-period simulations. Along with constituent-concentration Analysis, source tracing, tank-mixing, water-age, and fire-flow analyses.

Additionally, there are controls used to rule-based logic and pumps for single or variable speed. The tools help users find operational bottlenecks by minimising energy consumption and modelling real-time operations. The critical Analysis is another essential feature that allows users to find the weak links and valves in the water distribution system.

The tool provides the ability to import CAD, GIS, database data and perform the polyline-to-pipe conversion from DXF files. The program includes optimisation tools that facilitate and enhance design iterations. It is more impressive that the program can directly link to Supervisory, Control, and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. It was named as SCADAConnect. Here the software tool provides an environment to monitor and control the network in real-time. They use the tool along with the pipe network model monitored in real-time. It allows a comparison of the model with the operation. The problem deficiencies investigate and evaluated using forensic performance analysis.


A second tool comes with a similar utility called Innovyze's PipePlan software. It provides a geospatial environment for water network analysis. It was designed for a detailed hydraulic network model. The design engineers produce and validate distribution and transmission line designs iteratively with minimal effort.

PipePlan allows horizontal and vertical alignments that help to define the location of pipe fittings such as bends, air valves, washouts, end caps and tees. It comes with an essential feature of the tool and its interference checking. It comes with automating report intersection with existing/proposed utility networks.


The tool maintains water distribution networks and goes through the challenging task for governments across the globe. In this context, the CAD software plays a significant role in enabling the proper water flow regulation. Also, it covers cities and urban areas that would continue to expand. Therefore, the tools like WaterGems and PipePlan comes with an even more critical role in providing efficient design and optimized water networks in the future.