Does InfoWorks ICM use the SWMM engine? Yes! Here’s everything else you need to know.

Autodesk Autodesk June 11, 2024

5 min read

InfoWorks ICM leverages some of the most advanced hydraulic and hydrologic simulation functions on the market, but did you know it can also leverage the EPA’s SWMM5 engine? In this post, we’ll walk through answers to various questions we get from our customers about InfoWorks ICM’s SWMM capabilities, as well as highlight new features valuable to SWMM modelers.

Does InfoWorks ICM use the SWMM engine?

InfoWorks ICM, Autodesk’s Integrated Catchment Modeling software, is able to leverage the EPA Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) 5 engine to read and produce SWMM results where needed. To support our customers who feel more comfortable using their traditional SWMM-based solution, in December 2019 we added the EPA’s SWMM5 engine as an alternative solution directly inside InfoWorks ICM.

Modelers and engineers can directly convert both 1D and 2D elements of a model into InfoWorks ICM, enabling the transfer of complex hydraulic and hydrologic models between different networks. Having the ability to leverage the SWMM engine inside of InfoWorks ICM is particularly beneficial for modelers that work in different environments, or who need to use specific simulation engines due to local regulations.

How do you manage your models in these kinds of situations?

In one of our Water Talks, Product Manager Nathan Gerdts breaks down how our users do it and what we’ve done to make it easier for a consultant, city engineer, or database administrator to store, analyze, and share multiple SWMM models.

We have a proprietary engine, but you can also import SWMM models.

How do you import an InfoSWMM model into InfoWorks ICM?

If you are a former user of InfoSWMM, or if you have an old InfoSWMM model you need to convert, you can easily import these models into InfoWorks ICM, which has a comprehensive InfoSWMM Importer. This pulls in the network – along with input files such as rainfall, climatology, and simulation details – so you can work in InfoWorks ICM. You can also easily import SWMM5 files to InfoWorks ICM. Additionally, there’s a built in-exporter, so you can export projects in the EPA SWMM format, if required.

We have a a video that walks you through the import process for InfoSWMM models. 👇

How to bring an InfoSWMM model into InfoWorks ICM.

What are the differences between the InfoWorks ICM engine and the SWMM engine?

InfoWorks ICM’s hydraulic engine has been widely adopted around the world and is known for its accuracy, stability, and performance. Modelers often choose InfoWorks ICM for its ability to represent large scale networks with complex hydraulic interactions.

The InfoWorks ICM simulation engine is just as suitable for representing smaller, less complex, networks. To support our users who feel more comfortable using their preferred SWMM-based solution, in December 2019 Autodesk added the EPA’s SWMM5 engine as an alternative solution directly inside InfoWorks ICM. This gives you the many advantages of working with an InfoWorks ICM database, but with the same feel that you’re used to in InfoSWMM, with common property fields, workflows, and a similar window layout.

In a Water Talk, we welcomed Autodesk Product Sector Leader Robert Dickinson to discuss the differences between the ICM simulation engine and SWMM engine. He starts with a deep dive into how these two solutions solve St. Venant equations and goes from there. By understanding what’s going on behind the scenes, you’ll have a better foundation for understanding the best way of setting up a model. You’ll come away from this video with a greater understanding of why the native ICM simulation engine is generally faster and more stable than a SWMM-based engine

What would Bob do? Robert Dickinson goes deep into the SWMM-ing waters.

Can InfoWorks ICM utilize the Curve Number Infiltration method?

InfoWorks ICM 2025.1 and all future versions now include Curve Number (CN) Infiltration for 2D, which provides users with a more robust method for representing overland flows. The feature works by integrating hydrologic and hydraulic components into the 2D engine. The CNSWMM runoff volume method in InfoWorks ICM is based on the SWMM Curve Number Infiltration model developed by the US EPA, and the CNSWMM infiltration method is joined by five other infiltration methods inside of InfoWorks ICM.

To learn more about this feature and the InfoWorks ICM 2025.1 release, read our post about the release.

What do experts think of InfoWorks ICM?

We have several experts working behind the scenes to make our hydraulic modeling software best-in-class. One of those experts is Autodesk Product Sector Leader Robert Dickinson, who has been working in the water industry for 50 years, 17 of them helping to build Innovyze (now Autodesk) software. He runs his own website about SWMM, has his own YouTube channel that focuses on SWMM, and has been nurturing SWMM communities for as long as people have been online. He is a man who has had many “proprietary vs open-source” conversations on the Internet, and he always brings a comprehensive perspective to the table.

If there is a SWMM tool out there, Bob has worked with it, including XPSWMM, InfoSWMM, and EPA SWMM. He’s seen a lot of SWMM enthusiasts migrate to InfoWorks ICM, and he regularly answers questions about making the switch in his community. We asked him how he feels about InfoWorks ICM and its SWMM capabilities.

“InfoWorks ICM is a more complete solution compared to SWMM5, with more modeling features,” Dickinson says. “It can better model reality without any numerical compromises or workaround and is generally a more advanced and accurate solution for modeling sanitary and stormwater systems compared to InfoSWMM.”

“Let’s say you have a model with reality-based parameters for nodes, links, watershed, and 2D meshes, and you want to see how it behaves when you apply rainfall and flow. You need a numerical model or solution to solve for your network over time – otherwise you just have a lot of data. I think InfoWorks ICM is best at solving for these flows and depths. It is also generally more stable and faster compared to SWMM5 and XPSWMM.”

Where can I learn more about InfoWorks ICM?

If you’re curious about more information regarding InfoWorks ICM, you can read through our product center to see key features. Additionally, our One Water Blog maintains a good bit of content regarding InfoWorks ICM and other storm, flood, and sewer modeling topics. Finally, if you’d like to speak with one of our solutions consultants about your specific use case for InfoWorks ICM, you can request a call.

Finally, if you’re considering purchasing our software, we’ve created a few videos that explain 10 reasons we think water professionals choose InfoWorks ICM, which we’ve divided up into Part 1 and Part 2.

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