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written by: Harlan Bengtson • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 10/29/2010
Get Excel spreadsheet templates for calculating a watershed time of concentration. This
parameter is of interest primarily for its use to calculate peak storm water runoff rate for storm
water management facilities.
Time of Concentration in Hydrologic Calculations
The time of concentration of a watershed is the time that it takes for rainfall landing on the
hydrologically farthest point of the watershed to reach its outlet. The watershed time of
concentration is of interest primarily because of its use as the storm duration for determination of
the design storm rainfall intensity to use for rational method calculation of peak storm water
The time of concentration is used for this design storm duration because it will give the
maximum peak storm water runoff rate for a given recurrence interval. The rationale is as
follows: For storm durations less than the time of concentration, the storm will end before runoff
from the entire watershed is reaching the outlet, so the entire watershed will never be
contributing flow at the outlet. For storm durations greater than the time of concentration, the
storm will continue beyond the time when the entire watershed starts to contribute flow at the
outlet, but a longer duration storm will have a lower intensity than a shorter duration storm with
the same recurrence interval. Thus a storm of duration equal to the time of concentration will
indeed give the maximum peak storm water runoff rate for a specified recurrence interval.
Ok, so that's why there is interest in the time of concentration, now read on for information on
how to calculate values for the time of concentration of a given watershed.
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Methods of Estimating Time of Concentration
Many different empirical equations have been developed for calculation of travel time and time
of concentration for the many variations in types of watersheds. These include the Izzard
equation, the Kerby equation, the Kirpich equation, the Manning Kinematic equation, the
National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) method, the Bransby Williams equation, and
the Manning equation.
For this article, three of the equations will be discussed. The Manning Kinematic equation will
be presented for use with overland sheet flow, the NRCS method will be presented for shallow
concentrated flow, and the Manning equation will be discussed for channel flow. These three
methods of calculating travel time are those recommended by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service
(SCS) in the first reference at the end of this article. These methods are also given in the second
reference, the Iowa Stormwater Management Manual.
Excel Spreadsheet Templates for Travel Time by the Manning Kinematic Equation
The Manning Kinematic equation is shown in the boxes at the right for U.S. and for S.I. units.
The parameters in the equation are as follows:
= overland sheet flow runoff travel time, min (NOTE: many places show the constant
being 0.007 for U.S. units giving the time in hours. These equations both give travel time in
n = Manning roughness coefficient, dimensionless
L = length of the flow path, ft (S.I. - m)
P = 2 year, 24 hr rainfall depth, in (S.I. - mm)
S = ground slope, ft/ft (S.I. - m/m)
The Excel spreadsheet template image shown at the left is set up to calculate the overland sheet
flow travel time using the Manning kinematic equation, based on the
input value entered for the other parameters listed above. Tables with values of the Manning
roughness coefficient for various overland flow conditions are available in all three of the
references for this article.
Click here to download a table of n values prepared from information in Reference #2.
Additional sections of an overall spreadsheet for calculation of watershed time of concentration
are presented and discussed separately in the next few sections. U.S. and S.I. versions of the
entire spreadsheet can be downloaded from links at the end of this article, on page 2.
Download Excel spreadsheet templates to calculate storm water runoff travel time for shallow
concentrated flow by the NCRS method and for channel flow with the Manning equation. The
watershed time of concentration is obtained by summing the storm water runoff travel times for
overland sheet flow, shallow concentrated flow, and channel flow. The Excel spreadsheet
templates can be downloaded in either U.S. units or S.I. units.
Excel Spreadsheet Templates for Travel Time by NCRS Method
Reference #1 for this article recommends using the Manning Kinematic equation for travel
length of no more than 300 ft and reference #2 recommends that L should be no more than 100 ft
for that equation. Both of these methods recommend using the NCRS method for the shallow
concentrated flow that typically develops within 100 to 300 ft into the watershed. The approach
used in the NCRS method is to first calculate the velocity of the shallow concentrated flow based
on the type of surface and slope. Then the travel time is calculated by dividing the travel length
by the velocity of flow. The NCRS method equations are as follows:
= L/(60V) ( for either U.S. or S.I. units )
V = 16.1345 S
for U.S. units ( V = 4.9178 S
for S.I. units) for an unpaved surface
V = 20.3282 S
for U.S. units ( V = 6.1960 S
for S.I. units) for a paved surface
The parameters in these equations and their units are as follows:
is the travel time for shallow concentrated flow in minutes (for either U.S. or S.I. units)
L is the length of the flow path in ft for U.S. or m for S.I. units
V is the velocity of flow in ft/sec for U.S. or m/s for S.I. units
S is the slope of the flow path, which is dimensionless for either U.S. or S.I. units
A Excel spreadsheet template that will calculate the shallow concentrated flow travel time using
the NCRS method is shown at the right above. It is part of the overall time of concentration
Excel spreadsheets that can be downloaded through links at the end of this article.
Excel Spreadsheet Templates for Travel Time by The Manning Equation
The Manning Equation is widely used for open channel flow calculations and is recommended in
both of the first two references to calculate the travel time for any channel flow portion of the
watershed runoff path. The equations used in this part of the spreadsheet are as follows:
The Manning equation in U.S. units: Q = (1.49/n)A(R
The Manning equation in S.I. units: Q = (1.0/n)A(R
R = A/P
V = Q/A
The parameters in these equations and their units are as follows:
Q = channel flow rate in cfs for U.S. units or m
/s for S.I. units
V = average velocity of flow in ft/sec for U.S. units or m/s for S.I. units
R = hydraulic radius of the channel (= A/P) in ft for U.S. units or m for S.I. units
A = channel cross-sectional area in ft
for U.S. units or m
for S.I. units
P = wetted perimeter of channel in ft for U.S. units or m for S.I. units
S = channel bottom slope, which is dimension for either set of units
n = Manning roughness coefficient for channel
L = length of flow path in ft for U.S. units or m for S.I. units
= travel time for channel flow in min for either set of units
An image of an Excel spreadsheet to calculate channel travel time using the Manning equation is
shown at the upper right. This is part of the overall Excel spreadsheets for watershed time of
concentration that can be downloaded in U.S. or S.I. units from links in the next section. For
additional background on Manning equation calculations and more downloadable Excel
spreadsheets, see the article, "Use of Excel Spreadsheet Formulas for Uniform Open Channel
Flow/Manning Equation Calculations."
Overall Excel Spreadsheets for Calculating Time of Concentration
The overall watershed time of concentration is simply the sum of all the travel times calculated
as described in the last three sections. An overall Excel spreadsheet template containing the
modules described above for Manning kinematic equation, the NCRS method, and the Manning
equation calculations, along with provision for summing all of the travel times to get the
watershed time of concentration, can be downloaded in U.S. or S.I. units by clicking on the
appropriate link below.
Click here for the spreadsheet in U.S. units.
Click here for the spreadsheet in S.I. units.
Excel Formulas to Calculate Water Flow Rates for Different Pipe Sizes
written by: Harlan Bengtson • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 5/26/2011
Excel formulas to calculate water flow rates for pipe sizes (diameters and lengths) can be
downloaded as Excel templates in this article. The Hazen Williams formula is used for water
flow rate calculations. Either S.I. units or U.S. units can be used in the Excel spreadsheet
Limitations on the Hazen Williams Formula for Water Flow Rate Calculations
The Hazen Williams formula is an empirical equation that can be used for turbulent flow of
water at typical ambient temperatures. The turbulent flow requirement is not very limiting. Most
practical applications of water transport in pipes are in the turbulent flow regime. For a review of
this topic see the article, 'Reynolds Number and Laminar & Turbulent Flow.' Strictly speaking,
the Hazen Williams formula applies to water at 60
F, but it works quite well for a reasonable
range of water temperatures above or below 60
F. For fluids with viscosity different from water,
or for water temperatures far above or below 60
F, the Darcy Weisbach Equation works better
than the Hazen Williams Formula. Click on the following link for more details about the Darcy
Following presentation and discussion of several forms of the Hazen Williams equation in the
next couple of sections, a downloadable Excel spreadsheet template will be presented and
discussed for making Hazen Williams water flow rate calculations, using Excel formulas.
Forms of the Hazen Williams Formula
There are several different forms of the Hazen Williams Formula in use for water flow rate
calculations. It can be written in terms of water velocity or water flow rate, in terms of pressure
drop or head loss, and for several different sets of units. The traditional form of the Hazen
Williams formula is:
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U.S. units: V = 1.318 C R
V = water flow velocity in ft/sec
C = Hazen Williams coefficient, dependent on the pipe material and pipe age
R = Hydraulic radius, ft (R = cross-sectional area/wetted perimeter)
S = slope of energy grade line = head loss/pipe length = h
/L, which is dimensionless
S.I. units: V = 0.85 C R
V is in m/s and R is in meters
The Hazen Williams Formula is used primarily for pressure flow in pipes, for which the
hydraulic radius is one fourth of the pipe diameter (R = D/4). Using this relationship and Q =
/4), for flow in a circular pipe, the Hazen Williams formula can be rewritten as shown in
the next section.
Water Flow Rates for Pipe Sizes over a Range of Diameters with the Hazen Williams
For flow of water under pressure in a circular pipe, the Hazen Williams formula shown above
can be rewritten into the following convenient form:
in U.S. units: Q = 193.7 C D
Q = water flow rate in gal/min (gpm)
D = pipe diameter in ft
C and S are the same as above
in S.I. units: Q = 0.278 C D
Q is in m
/s and D is in meters
The Hazen Williams formula can also be expressed in terms of the pressure difference (ΔP)
instead of head loss (h
) across the pipe length, L, using ΔP = ρgh
In S.I. units, a convenient form of the equation is: Q = (3.763 x 10
) C D
Q is water flow rate in m
D is pipe diameter in mm
L is pipe length in m,
ΔP is the pressure difference across pipe length, L, in kN/m
In U.S. units: Q = 0.442 C D
Q is water flow rate in gpm,
D is pipe diameter in inches
L is pipe length in ft,
ΔP is the pressure difference across pipe length, L, in psi
This is a form of the Hazen Williams formula that is convenient to use for estimating water flow
rates for pipe sizes and lengths in U.S. units, as illustrated in the section after next on the second
The second page of this article has a table with values for the Hazen Williams coefficient, a table
with example water flow rate calculations for several PVC pipe lengths and diameters, and a link
to download a spreadsheet template with Excel formulas to make the water flow rate
Values for the Hazen Williams Coefficient
In order to use the Hazen Williams formula for water flow rate
calculations, values of the Hazen Williams coefficient, C, are needed for the pipe material being
used. Values of C are available in many handbooks, textbooks, and on internet sites. C values
typically used for some common pipe materials are shown in the table at the left.
Source:Toro Ag Irrigation (PDF)
Example Calculation of Water Flow Rates for Pipe Sizes and Lengths
The table below was prepared using the equation: Q = 0.442 C D
, with units as
given above, to calculate the water flow rates for PVC pipe with diameters from 1/2 inch to 6
inches and length from 5 ft to 100 ft, all for a pressure difference of 20 psi across the particular
length of pipe. The Hazen Williams coefficient was taken to be 150 per the table in the previous
...............................................WATER FLOW RATE IN GPM.............................................
...................... ..................................Pipe Diameter in Inches.............................................
The table shows a pattern that you should intuitively expect. For a given pressure difference
driving the flow, the water flow rate increases as diameter increases for a given pipe length and
the water flow rate decreases as pipe length increases for a given pipe diameter. The equation
above can be used to calculate water flow rates for pipe sizes and lengths with different pipe
materials and pressure driving forces, using the Hazen Williams equation as demonstrated in the
An Excel Template to Calculate Water Flow Rates for Pipe Sizes and lengths.
The spreadsheet template at the left has the Excel formulas built in to
calculate water flow rates for different pipe sizes as illustrated in the previous section. This Excel
spreadsheet template that can be downloaded below, allows for input of the Hazen Williams
coefficient value and the pressure drop across the length of pipe being considered. Also, the pipe
diameters and lengths can be changed from those currently in the spreadsheet, so the flow rate
can be calculated for any combination of pipe diameter and length if the Hazen Williams
coefficient is known and the pressure drop across the pipe is known.
The example spreadsheet has U.S. units, but an S.I. version and a U.S. version are available for
Click here to download this spreadsheet template in U.S. units.
Click here to download this spreadsheet template in S.I. units.
Storm Water Sewer Design Calculations
written by: Harlan Bengtson • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 5/26/2011
Use the Excel formulas in the templates included with this article to compute the hydraulic
portion for storm water drainage in a storm sewer design.
Storm Sewer Hydraulic Design
The Excel template that can be downloaded from this article is useful for making the hydraulic
portion of storm sewer design calculations between any pair of manholes. The first step in this
stormwater drainage system design is using the rational method to determine the design
stormwater runoff flow rate for a given section of storm sewer. The next step is calculation of the
pipe diameter and slope for that section of storm sewer, using the Manning Equation. Finally, the
pipe invert elevation at each manhole needs to be determined. An overview of typical design
criteria and the overall hydraulic design procedure is available in the article, "Drain Storm Water
with Good Storm Sewer Hydraulic Design." Each of the steps is discussed briefly in the next
several sections of this article and the spreadsheet template with the Excel formulas is then
presented and discussed on page 2.
The Rational Method for Calculation of Design Flow Rate
The design stormwater runoff rate to use for any stormwater drainage system design is typically
calculated with the rational method equation, Q = CiA, where Q is the design stormwater runoff
rate, C is the runoff coefficient (an estimate of the fraction of rainfall that becomes surface
runoff), i is the design rainfall intensity, and A is the runoff area that drains to the section of
sewer pipe being designed. More details about the rational method and its use are given in the
article, "The Rational Method for Calculation of Peak Storm Water Runoff Rate." The most
complicated part of rational method calculations is determination of the design rainfall intensity,
which depends upon the design return period, the design storm duration, and the intensity-
duration-frequency (IDF) relationship for the location of the storm sewer design. Determination
of design storm intensity is discussed in the article, "Calculating Design Rainfall Intensity for
Use in the Rational Method."
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The Manning Equation for Calculation of Pipe Diameter and Slope
The criteria used to calculate the design diameter and slope for a section
of sewer pipe are as follows:
1. The pipe must be able to carry the design stormwater runoff rate.
2. The flow velocity in the sewer pipe must be greater than or equal to the design V
The use of these design criteria and the Manning equation
[ Q = (1.49/n)(A)(R
) ] to calculate the pipe diameter and slope is discussed and
illustrated with an example in the article, "How to Use the Manning Equation for Storm Sewer
Calculations." The procedure is also illustrated in the spreadsheet template presented on page 2
of this article.
Determining Pipe Invert Depths at Manholes
The design criterion that helps to determine the pipe invert depth (or
elevation) at each manhole is a minimum required depth of cover above the sewer pipe for
protection from freezing. This will typically by specified by a state or local design code. The
required minimum cover, the required pipe slope, and the ground surface elevations from a map
like that shown at the left, are used to calculate the pipe invert elevations at each manhole. This
calculation is illustrated using Excel formulas in the Excel spreadsheet template presented in the
next section, on page 2 of this article.
Use of Excel Formulas in a Spreadsheet Template to Put it all Together
The Excel spreadsheet template shown at the left contains the design
calculations for a storm sewer line along Maple Avenue, from 8th Street to 4th Street, based on
the manhole layout map shown in the previous section. The column numbers given in the
spreadsheet will be used to discuss the various parts of the spreadsheet calculations.
Columns 1, 2, and 3 contain information from a map that is drawn to scale, like the one in the
previous section and used for this example. Column 4 is the cumulative area draining to the
downstream sections of sewer pipe. In this example, the manhole at 8th Street and Maple
Avenue is assumed to be the uppermost part of this sewer line. Column 3 is an estimate of the
runoff coefficient. Column 3 is the inlet time from the farthest point in the drainage area. For the
first section of sewer pipe, the inlet time is the time of concentration. For subsequent
sections of sewer pipe, the time of concentration is the inlet time to the
first inlet plus pipe flow time to the inlet of the pipe section being designed, as given in column
Column 8 is the calculated design rainfall intensity. The portion of the Excel template shown at
the right is a linear regression of storm duration, δ, vs the inverse of storm intensity, 1/i, using I-
D-F data for the location of interest, to get an equation for storm intensity as a function of storm
duration. This linear regression makes use of the fact that the relationship between i and δ is
typically of the form i = a/(δ + b), where a and b are constants. Column 9 is simply the
calculation, Q = CiA.
Columns 10 through 15 make use of the Manning Equation and Q = VA to determine the
minimum standard pipe diameter and pipe slope needed, as well as a check on V
when the pipe is receiving the design stormwater runoff flow rate.
Columns 16 and 17 are used to calculate the pipe flow time to be used for the time of
concentration calculation in column 7. Columns 18 and 19 give ground surface elevations taken
from the manhole layout map. Columns 20 and 21 calculate the pipe invert elevations. The invert
elevation of the uppermost end of the pipe is taken to be the surface elevation minus the
minimum cover (5' in this case) plus the pipe diameter. The invert elevation at the lower end of
the pipe section is calculated using the pipe slope that was previously determined. Columns 22
and 23 are a check on the depth of cover at each manhole, and column 24 is a listing of the final
design pipe slope.
In order to see the formulas used for each part of the calculation, click here to download this
Excel spreadsheet template (with U.S. units) for storm sewer design calculations.
Click here to download this Excel spreadsheet template (with S.I. units).
References and Image Credits
1. Bengtson, Harlan H., Hydraulic Design of Storm Sewers, Including the Use of Excel, an
online, continuing education course for PDH credit.
2. McCuen, Richard H., Hydrologic Analysis and Design, 2nd Ed, Upper Saddle River, NJ,
3. Knox County Tennessee, Stormwater Management Manual, section on the Rational Method
Images are from reference #1.