The flow in water systems, such as rivers, canal networks and reservoir cascades, is mainly chacterised by the boundary conditions given by nature. Our demands from the system may be at odds with what the system provides: in dry periods, we may want to use more water than is flowing into the system; in the wetter periods there is often too much water, such that draining capacity is exceeded. With the help of hydraulic structures, we can balance the flow over the year to some extent.

Furthermore, demands from different use functions can conflict with each other. In a hydropower setting, for instance, spill flows to facilitate fish migration conflict with an operator’s objective to maximize flow through the turbines for power generation.

RTC Tools has been designed to deal with these questions. As an optimization tool for long-term and short-term planning it helps the operators to control the hydraulic structures in the best way. RTC Tools helps to plan ahead for best usage of storage capacity in the system, resolving conflicts between different use functions (balance between flood and drought requirements) and reach robust decisions in face of uncertain weather forecasts.

The following optimization methods are available in RTC Tools:

  • Linear and non-linear continuous optimization (gradient descent)
  • Mixed integer linear optimization
  • Rule-based simulation (If-then-else)


See how RTC Tools is used in the Netherlands to support the operation our water infrastructure to meet the needs of competing objectives.

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Features of RTC Tools

  • RTC Tools is a free and open-source tool.
  • RTC Tools comes as Python package. This gives high flexibility for modellers to build up the most complex optimisation problems.
  • RTC Tools uses the open source Modelica modelling language for water system models. The RTC Tools library of building blocks contains various building blocks and is user extendable.
  • Multi-objective optimization - RTC Tools offers two approaches to the handling of competing goals and objectives:
    • The weighting method, by which goals are traded off against each other and it is good fit for clearly defined priorities such as public safety.
    • Lexicographic goal programming, a method whereby goals are arranged into an ordered list, which are evaluated iteratively making sure that when optimising a goal, the previously optimised goals are no worse off.
  • RTC-Tools models can be integrated into our forecasting engine Delft-FEWS to support day-to-day operational decision making (Model Predictive Control).
  • Ensemble optimization feature creates robust solutions in the face of uncertainty.

How to obtain RTC Tools

RTC Tools is open source and free to use.

Deltares also offers service packages for RTC Tools. Please contact our Sales Service team ( for support and maintenance.

If RTC Tools is free, why should I get a service package? For users where RTC Tools is part of a critical workflow we recommend a service package where users receive support from Deltares during Netherlands office hours. Users who build models with RTC Tools can rely on expertise of Deltares experts, in particular on the mathematical formulation of optimization problems.

For technical questions about the software please contact:

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