Julien Harou : HydraPlatform

  • United Kingdom

Hydra Platform

An Open-Source Software Platform for Water Resource Management Models

Sustainable water management is a complex challenge that involves integrated engineered (water supply), natural (hydrology & ecology) and human (economic, social, political) systems, and huge quantities of data. While computer-based mathematical models can help represent how these different pieces work together, such models are only widely applicable if combined with user interaction and data management software.


Water managers need models to manage water effectively. In the past, each model developer had to recreate their own user-interface and data management software. Because software development is often prohibitively expensive, many innovative models that could make an impact on sustainable water use never transition from research into real-world application. This barrier to entry has resulted in only a handful of actively maintained professional-grade water management decision support systems.

“Many helpful water management models are published every year. A generic shared interface and web repository could make these models widely applicable and available.” —Julien Harou, Founder, Hydra Platform


In 2008, an international group of engineers, economists, and ecologists began work on Hydra Platform, an open-source user-interface designed to facilitate the building, using, and sharing of water resource management models. Hydra Platform features a professional-grade data management and spatial visualization software system allowing water planners to manage model input data and analyze and visualize results.

HydroPlatform is a model platform; existing models can connect to it. Water management models represent water resource systems as a network (nodes represent reservoirs, aquifers, treatment plants, etc., and links represent rivers, canals, pipelines, etc.). Different models have unique sets of nodes and links with unique data requirements. Using object-oriented methods, Hydra Platform builds a custom database specific to each model. Custom icons are linked on a geographical background image to draw the network. User-defined functions further link the model to the platform.


The goal of Hydra Platform is to allow water managers to focus on improving models and adapting them to local conditions rather than designing software. Armed with a ‘plug and play’ interface, developers can transform a research model into a powerful application ready for real-world modeling of complex systems. Making it easier to build water management decision support tools will catalyze innovation and increase demand for advanced water resource planning methods.