Above/Below Ground Urban Drainage Scale Model  




University of Sheffield
Western Bank - Sheffield S10 2TN | United Kingdom 

Fields of expertise

Urban flooding

Runoff pollution

Performance of urban assets

Digital water solution

Modality of Access


Access offered for each project

60 days

Number of Projects

2 (1 per call)

Expected composition of the visiting user-group

1 researcher during the full access period and 5 researchers for 10 days



This facility was designed to study the interactions between shallow surface and piped drainage flows during urban flood conditions. 

The system comprises of a 75 mm pipe below a 4 m x 8 m ‘surface’, linked by a 240 mm manhole. Flows in the pipe and over the surface (each up to 11 L/s) can be independently controlled and measured using automated values and flow meters.

A range of steady and unsteady sewer surcharge (net flow exchange from pipe to surface) and drainage (net flow exchange from pipe to surface) conditions can be studied.

The system is instrumented with pressure/depth sensors to record time series data of surface flow depth and pipe pressure conditions. A large-scale surface PIV/PCA has also been installed in order to characterise 2D velocity and depth averaged solute concentrations in the surface flow. 

A number of different obstructions and manhole opening grates can be fitted to the surface in order to create a range of flow conditions on the surface. 

Service provision

The facility is available for studies into the hydromechanics of urban drainage systems and shallow flood flows.

Specific examples of past studies include:   

  • Studies on the efficiency of different inlet grates designs for drainage and the detailed validation of 2D hydrodynamic surface flow models;  
  • Detailed studies of manhole hydrodynamics and 3D model validation including pollutant transport through manholes and within surface flows;  
  • Quantification of hydraulic head losses within surcharging manhole structures for improved sewer/flood modelling;  
  • Validation of methodologies describing interaction of flows between urban drainage systems and overland flows in flood conditions. 

Instrumentation available and specific services provided

  • Depth/pressure sensors within the pipeline and on the surface
  • Automated values to create bespoke steady conditions or unsteady flow events
  • Large Scale PIV for surface velocity measurement
  • 3D PIV system (La Vision) for manhole hydraulics and pollutant transport/ 2D LDV system (Dantec)
  • Fluorometry system for solute transport studies in the pipeline and Planar Concentration Analysis system for 2D pollutant transport in the surface flow
  • Flexible surface system such that different surface street layouts/obstructions can be added

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