The need to get rapid estimates of the water resources available in a catchment is an issue facing environmental managers across the world. The LowFlows software system was developed to enable river flows to be estimated for ungauged catchments in the UK.

The hydrological estimation techniques used in the software are derived from the Low Flows 2000 software system developed jointly by CEH, the EA, SEPA and NIEA. These hydrological models have been further developed by WHS using the latest hydrometric data and output from WHS Research and Development projects.

LowFlows represents a common platform for both regulatory and commercial users with equivalent natural flow estimation routines. The EA, SEPA, NRW and NIEA have all adopted LowFlows Enterprise as a standard method for predicting flows in ungauged catchments.

LowFlows 2 uses the same underlying hydrological models as LowFlows Enterprise, at a cost suitable for use by a wide range of users from engineering consultants to environmental scientists.

The functionalities of the system include:

  • National coverage, hence the ability to estimate flows for any catchment in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with spatial orientation by hydrometric area.
  • The ability to estimate the following for user-defined catchments, imported using either Esri shapefiles (polygons) or CSV files.
  • Annual mean flow (m3/s)
  • Annual runoff (mm/yr)
  • Base flow index (BFI)
  • Annual and monthly flow duration statistics (including Q95) for the natural flow regime
  • Annual and monthly flow duration statistics for an influenced flow regime (based on user-supplied quantification of influences).
  • The ability to improve natural flow estimates by incorporating preloaded local data gauges (LDGs).
  • The ability to generate flow statistics for catchments in Scotland with and without the impact of natural surface waters.

The ability to browse a wide range of contextual information, such as digital Ordnance Survey maps, viewed via the geographical interface.