ArcDrain: A GIS Add-In for Automated Determination of Surface Runoff in Urban Catchments

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 20;18(16):8802. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168802.


Surface runoff determination in urban areas is crucial to facilitate ex ante water planning, especially in the context of climate and land cover changes, which are increasing the frequency of floods, due to a combination of violent storms and increased imperviousness. To this end, the spatial identification of urban areas prone to runoff accumulation is essential, to guarantee effective water management in the future. Under these premises, this work sought to produce a tool for automated determination of urban surface runoff using a geographic information systems (GIS). This tool, which was designed as an ArcGIS add-in called ArcDrain, consists of the discretization of urban areas into subcatchments and the subsequent application of the rational method for runoff depth estimation. The formulation of this method directly depends on land cover type and soil permeability, thereby enabling the identification of areas with a low infiltration capacity. ArcDrain was tested using the city of Santander (northern Spain) as a case study. The results achieved demonstrated the accuracy of the tool for detecting high runoff rates and how the inclusion of mitigation measures in the form of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and green infrastructure (GI) can help reduce flood hazards in critical zones.

Keywords: automation; flood mitigation; geographic information system; land cover; peak flow; permeable surfaces; rational method; urban runoff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Floods
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Rain
  • Soil
  • Water Movements*


  • Soil