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Hydrological Simulation Program – FORTRAN (HSPF) is an analytical tool designed to allow simulation of hydrology and water quality in natural and man-made systems. HSPF is used to apply mathematical models to simulate the movement of water, sediment and other constituents through watersheds. This analysis helps predict possible environmental problems in the watershed. With the growing need to care for and monitor the effects of man on the environment, it became apparent that a method for rapid analysis of those effects was needed.

The WMS interface creates a way to input a multitude of parameters into the input file and then to run HSPF. The input parameters are linked to all the tools within WMS including automated basin delineation and parameter definition using a graphical user interface.

The HSPF model is included with all paid editions of WMS.

Using HSPF With WMS

WMS does not currently have any post-processing capabilities for the HSPF model. When WMS is installed the 4 HSPF-related programs (GenScn, WDMUtil, WinHSPF, and WinHSPFLt) are not installed by default. To install them, choose to install 'HSPF' in the 'select features to install' step of the installation process. Once WMS is installed, the HSPF programs will be placed in the C:\basins folder and can be found in the BASINS folder in the Windows Start menu.

GenScn is used for generating various types of scenarios and does some post-processing. There is some value in looking at the different capabilities for scenario generation and post-processing in GenScn.

WDMUtil should be used for post-processing after running an HSPF simulation. Read the WDM file from the HSPF simulation into WDMUtil and view the “External Targets” (output) from the HSPF simulation.

WinHSPF and WinHSPFLt can be used to run HSPF. These are both windows-based programs with a graphical user interface. WinHSPF has more tools for analyzing any errors from the HSPF run and for visualizing and editing the model, but it is also possible to run HSPF using the WinHSPFLt program.

The DOS version of HSPF is no longer distributed with WMS.

As the last section of the HSPF tutorial says, it's necessary to close WMS after saving the HSPF *.uci file before running the file in WinHSPF or WinHSPFLt because WMS keeps the *.wdm file open. HSPF cannot run the model unless the *.wdm is closed in all other programs. The versions of WinHSPF, WinHSPFLt, WDMUtil, and GenScn are the same as the software distributed by EPA’s BASINS program.

Getting Started

In order to begin an HSPF simulation in WMS, the HSPF data must be initialized for the watershed model. This is a simple procedure that involves the click of a button within the HSPF Global Options dialog box. Once the data is initialized, it's possible to access the various dialog boxes within the HSPF interface.

The following sections will describe the input dialogs involved in the interface and will explain the expected input parameters. It is recommended to consult the HSPF documentation to receive a complete description of how HSPF uses the parameters.


The HSPF menu, in the Hydrologic module, has the following commands:

  • New Simulation – Initiates a new HSPF simulation in WMS.
  • Open HSPF UCI File – Brings up an Open dialog for importing HSPF UCI files.
  • Save HSPF UCI File – Brings up the Select UCI filename dialog which functions similar to the Save As dialog.
  • Delete Simulation – Removes the current simulation. A prompt will confirm the deletion.
  • Check Simualtion – Launches the moodel checker.
  • Run Simulation – Launches the HSPF simualtion run. The Run HSPF dialog will appear to confirm the save location for the solution files.
  • Read Solution
  • Global Options – Opens the HSPF Global Options dialog.
  • Edit Parameters – Opens the HSPF Segments dialog.
  • Mass Link Editor – Opens the Mass Link Editor dialog.
  • WDM Datasets – Opens the Select WDM Time Series dialog.
  • Special Actions
  • Run GenScn
  • Run WDMUtil

Run Simulation

Once the data for HSPF input has been defined, the HSPF model may be launched from WMS. The Run Simulation item in the HSPF menu will invoke the Run HSPF dialog.

The Run HSPF dialog will allow specifying the *.uci file, which is necessary to run HSPF. All other files required to run HSPF and to view the output were defined in the HSPF Global Options dialog box.

Once the input file has been defined, select OK, and WinHSPFLt will be executed. A separate window will appear and information about the HSPF simulation will be reported.

If HSPF is not executed successfully when issuing this command, be sure that the path to WinHSPFLt is correct. If HSPF does not run to a successful completion, view the ASCII output file using the View File command in the File menu to find the error messages.

As the last section of the HSPF tutorial says, if having viewed or edited the WDM file data, it's necessary to close WMS after saving the HSPF *.uci file before running the file in WinHSPF or WinHSPFLt because WMS keeps the *.wdm file open. HSPF cannot run the model unless the *.wdm is closed in all other programs.

HSPF Reading Existing Files

While WMS is capable of reading HSPF User’s Control Input (*.uci) files created manually or in other programs, some limitations exist. Some of these limitations are permanent in WMS, other are currently under development and will be resolved.

  • WMS will only allow input from one WDM file and output to one OUT file. If more WDM or OUT files are included in the FILES block of the *.uci file, they will be ignored.
  • WMS currently reads the SCHEMATIC and MASS LINK blocks to determine the structure and connectivity of the watershed. The NETWORK block is not yet supported.
  • If a particular land segment contributes to more than one reach/reservoir segment, that land segment will be copied to a new segment for each reach/reservoir. This can result in many new segments if the *.uci file contains several of these cases. Each new segment created will have the exact same attributes as the original, and will represent the area of the original segment which contributes to each reach/reservoir.
  • WMS currently does not read the COPY or GENER block from the *.uci file.

Many of these limitations will be eliminated as development of the HSPF interface continues.

HSPF Saving and Reading HSPF UCI Files

While working on the definition of HSPF parameter, or when finished, save the data in an HSPF input (*.uci) file. The Save HSPF UCI File command in the HSPF menu saves all HSPF input data to an HSPF input file (*.uci). The format of this file is consistent with that defined in the HSPF users manual. This file may be named anything, but generally should have the .uci extension. Note that the HSPF input file does not save any geographic data; though the geographic data is not necessarily needed, it may be saved in a WMS superfile using the Save As command in the File menu.

Once an HSPF file has been saved, it may be read in later using the Open HSPF UCI File command. Opening this file will build a topological tree and assign the HSPF parameters to the tree. Then the parameters may be edited as described above.

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