The Storm Water Evaluation Tool (SWEET)

RPS led a team to help the City of Houston revolutionize its approach to storm water management, which significantly impacts public safety, infrastructure, and construction in the city where more than 50 inches of rain falls annually. The Storm Water Evaluation Enhancement Tool (SWEET) combines Geographic Information System (GIS) tools, with the City’s information databases, to produce an objectively ranked list and map showing where drainage and flood control measures are most needed. Using databases that are regularly updated, SWEET provides a dynamic and current tool that has since been expanded to include 33 million feet of open drainage systems.

For the first time, the City can characterize and compare the need for drainage and flood control improvements in one place at one time and make an objective, informed decision about where to spend its limited resources. The transparent process removes subjectivity from annual infrastructure budgeting, with fact-based ranking, enabling all districts to be treated fairly and the worst areas to be elevated to the top of the list. This concept is called “Worst First.” The diverse SWEET team included expertise in hydrology, software design, GIS technology, economic evaluation, and public involvement.


  • 2009

    Start Date

  • 2018

    Completion Date

1 /02

Start Date


Completion Date

Key Details

Project Name

Storm Water Evaluation Enhancement Tool (SWEET)


Flooding and drainage


City of Houston



  • Houston, Texas, USA

Services Provided

  • Civil engineering
  • Project strategy and evaluation
  • Hydrology/hydrogeology


RPS was challenged with developing a GIS tool using data from multiple sources that is constantly being updated. The City needed a transparent, defensible process to determine the worst needs in the City.


RPS developed SWEET that incorporates new data as often as the City would like to update the model. City Staff can legitimately point to specific projects as the most critical as defined by criteria agreed to by numerous stakeholders.

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