I'm using ArcGIS Desktop 10.5 Arc Hydro Toolbox & encountered a problem while trying to delineate watersheds respectively drainage lines.

enter image description here

The red lines indicate my obtained drainage lines, which does not match my actual drainage (blue). So I wanted to start all over again & tried several times to burn the streams into my DEM (DEM reconditioning), but it does not work, instead I get this error warning:

enter image description here

I'm working locally on C drive, have all my files in a gdb & also project all the files to the same coordinate system.

How do I approach that?

I updated my model, but encountered a new problem:

enter image description here

Basically what I did: Data basis included DEM, stream shape & sink polygon

  1. Create Drainage Line Structures
  2. DEM Reconditioning
  3. Create Sink Structures
  4. Fill Sinks
  5. Create Sinks Structures
  6. Flow Direction with Sinks
  7. Adjust Flow Direction in Sinks
  8. Adjust Flow Direction in Streams
  9. Flow Accumulation
  10. Stream Definition
  11. Stream Segmentation
  12. Combine Stream Link and Sink Link
  13. Drainage Line Processing
  14. Catchment Grid Delineation
  15. Catchment Polygon Processing
  16. Adjoint Catchment Processing

What does this error code imply, what did I do wrong respectively forget to specify?

  • That is a fairly generic error and could be the result of many different issues, one being the reply below. I would attempt to contact the authors behind ArcHydro. I doubt anyone could answer this question other than the Author with your data.
    – Hornbydd
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


If I am understanding you correctly, the blue lines on your map (your 'actual' lines) are lines that represent physical, ground-truthed drainage on landscape. The red lines represent drainage lines that ArcHydro has delineated using the output from a flow accumulation raster. Is this the case?

If so, the biggest problem I see initially is that your 'actual' drainage lines that you want to burn in don't touch the edge of the watershed. Notice, in fact, that in the red lines, two separate watersheds have been delineated: one in the north, and one in the south. Since you are working in a relatively flat area, a stream burn is probably going to be necessary, particularly since your drainage lines look anthropogenic and therefore don't follow the land's natural contours (which might have naturally been two watersheds). However, you can't burn in streams unless water can exit the watershed through them. The end of your drainage must intersect the edge of the watershed.

I think the solution to this is to change the watershed boundary. I would read this post in detail and follow all the steps to delineate your watershed and its streams properly. Specific to your case, decide on at least one pour point (step 5 in the post). A pour point is the theoretically lowest point in the watershed, where all surface water will theoretically flow, and exit (not in reality though - remember that this is just a simplification). Your 'actual' lines must lead to this pour point if you want your stream burn to be successful.

If you are using ArcHydro, you can also refer to this documentation which outlines the entire procedure, for both watershed and stream delineation.

  • Thank you very much. Of course the the drainage line has to intersect with the edge of the watershed. I'll incorporate that. In addition to that, another question regarding terrain preprocessing. I'm aware of my drainage lines connecting several lakes in the catchment. Wherever I know the connection of my drains and lakes I want to represent that in the DEM. Would it make more sense to represent the connections with a drainage line or with a combined of sinks structure and drainage line solution? If sinks apply here how do I represent and link them to the drains?
    – Olli
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 4:56
  • 2
    Hi Olli, hope my comments were helpful. How to represent lakes depends on what kind of modeling you are doing. I would suggest that you solve your first problem, and then post this as a new question. In your new question, describe your modeling objective. Let me know if the first problem has been solved.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:30

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