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Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

In this chapter the characterisation of the mean rainfall is worked out based on
Intensity/Duration/Frequency-relationships (IDF-relationships).
New IDF-relationships are developed making optimal use of new methodologies
and the current computer technology (paragraph 2.1). The new IDF-relationships
are then compared with earlier (in Flanders) used design rainfall (paragraph 2.2).
Furthermore, the simplification into mean rainfall input for sewer system
calculations is worked out, which leads to composite design storms (paragraph 2.3).
These composite storms have been set up for three different applications as there are
: combined sewer system design (original application), hydrological calculations for
long storm durations (paragraph 2.3.4) and modelling the influence of rain water
storage tanks (paragraph 2.3.5). The applicability of these single storms and the
accuracy of the obtained results is discussed in chapter 5 for the design calculations and
in chapter 6 for the impact calculations.

2.1

IDF-relationships

2.1.1 The physical link with the design : the concentration time
The use of rainfall Intensity/Duration/Frequency-relationships (IDF-relationships)
has been standard practice for many decades for the design of sewer systems and other
hydraulic structures. The IDF-relationships give an idea about the frequency or
return period of a mean rainfall intensity or rainfall volume that can be expected
within a certain period, i.e. the storm duration. In this sense the storm duration is
an artificial parameter that can comprise any part of a rainfall event. IDF-relationships
are certainly not old fashioned. Even in this computer age they provide a lot of
information on the rainfall and they can be used as a base for the determination of
design storms. The reason is the physically based link between IDF-relationships
and hydraulic design, i.e. the concentration time.
The concentration time is the time the rainfall needs in order to travel from the
remotest place in the catchment to the point in the sewer system where the design
calculation is made [Chow, 1964]. For a sewer system this means that
the concentration time is the sum of the inlet time (time that the water flows over the
surface to the sewer system) and the flow time (time that the water flows through the
sewer system from the point where it enters the system to the design point). There will
be a contribution to the flow in the design point from the whole upstream catchment if
the storm duration is at least equal to the concentration time. This means that for a
certain (constant) rainfall intensity a maximum for the flow will be obtained at the
Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.1

calculation point after a duration equal to the concentration time (if there is an equal
contribution of the whole catchment). Therefore, the duration of the storm equal to the
concentration time is the critical storm duration. The concentration time and thus
also the critical storm duration are specific parameters for each point. There is no
single critical duration for the whole catchment. For the upstream points, short storm
durations will be critical and for more downstream points and larger catchments longer
storm durations will be critical.
For a certain frequency or return period the mean rainfall intensity over short durations
will be higher than over longer durations. In figure 2.1 the rainfall intensities are
shown for durations of 10, 20 and 30 minutes for a return period of 2 years (see
paragraph 2.1.5). If these hyetographs are (equally) flattened over the same
concentration time of 20 minutes, the storm with a duration of 20 minutes will lead to
a maximum effect (figure 2.1). This means that for a certain return period the
critical storm duration (thus equal to the concentration time) will lead to the
maximum effect. When a peaked rainfall event is flattened over the concentration
time, the difference between the peak of the resulting hydrograph and the peak of the
initial rainfall event is equal to this concentration time. If this behaviour is inverted,
it can be concluded that the concentration time can be approximated (from simulations)
as the time difference between the peak rainfall and the peak flow in every point.

rainfall intensity (mm/h)

60

rainfall for a return period of 2 years


50

flattened over duration of 20 minutes

40
30
20
10
0
0

20

40

60

80

100

120
140
time (minutes)

Figure 2.1 : Effect of a flattening over a concentration time of 20 minutes


on the rainfall volumes for a return period of 2 years and storm durations
for 10, 20 and 30 minutes (see paragraph 2.1.5).

2.2

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

As the flow time over the surface and through the sewer system are dependent on
the flow velocity and the velocity is in some extent related to the rainfall input,
the concentration time will actually not be a constant value for one specific point.
This means that the concentration time in reality is not a static, but a dynamic parameter
(i.e. a function of the rainfall intensity or flow : see paragraph 3.2.2).

2.1.2 The use of IDF-relationships in Flanders : short history


In 1985 Demare published IDF-relationships. These IDF-relationships were
determined based on the yearly maxima for the period 1934 - 1983 measured at the
Royal Meteorological Institute in Uccle (Belgium). These rainfall data were processed
using a Gumbel extreme value distribution with two parameters [Demare, 1985].
The use of yearly maxima was a simplification introduced to limit the process time and
work. With this method only IDF-relationships with a return period larger than 1 year
can be derived. These IDF-relationships were used for about one decade for sewer
system design [Berlamont, 1987].
About one decade earlier, Laurant had already published IDF-relationships for Uccle
[Laurant, 1976]. Laurant used the rainfall data measured at the same location
(Royal Meteorological Institute in Uccle) for the period 1934 - 1973. These rainfall
data were analysed by direct fitting of curves to the calculated IDF-relationships
(obtained by the monotone ranking method), without using any extreme value
estimation method. For that reason these IDF-relationships are less accurate for high
return periods. Laurant extrapolated these IDF-relationships even for a return period
of 1000 years, but the accuracy for return periods higher than 10 years is low.
The advantage of the IDF-relationships of Laurant is that they were determined also for
return periods less than 2 years (i.e. for high frequencies). These IDF-relationships
have never been prescribed for sewer system design, since the guidelines were in an
early stage of development prior to 1987 [De Backer, 1978].
Nowadays, powerful computers and new statistical methods are available to determine
new IDF-relationships without any restriction in data amounts or return periods.
In 1994, the rainfall data for Uccle for the period 1967 - 1993 with a time step of
10 minutes were made available in digital form by the Belgian Royal Meteorological
Institute (KMI) for research purposes. This was the start for a search for better
IDF-relationships and new design storms.

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.3

2.1.3 Concept for the new IDF-relationships


For the development of the IDF-relationships in this study the distribution of rainfall
volumes (obtained by the monotonic ranking method) in a certain aggregation period
is determined for a wide range of aggregation periods. The aggregation period is
the period over which the rainfall intensities are summed up to obtain a mean rainfall
intensity or a rainfall volume over a storm duration equal to the aggregation period.
The minimum aggregation period is the time step of the original rainfall series,
i.e. 10 minutes for the historical rainfall series of Uccle. For a specific aggregation
period, a relationship between rainfall volume and exceedance frequency of that rainfall
volume is obtained from the cumulative probability distribution. This relationship is
determined for every aggregation period that is a multiple of the rainfall time step.
The intensity is the ratio of the rainfall volume to the aggregation period, i.e. storm
duration. In practice this means that for a certain aggregation period the number of
rainfall volumes is counted, which exceed a specific threshold. This is called the
peak over threshold method. The return period (in [years]) for exceedance of that
threshold value is then the total length of the original rainfall series (in [years]) divided
by the number of exceedances.
Two exceedances of a certain rainfall threshold can occur within a short period.
This will not always lead to two different effects in the considered sewer system
(e.g. two rainfall events which lead to only one flooding event or one overflow event).
Therefore, an independency criterion has to be incorporated to distinguish dependant
rainfall events which lead to the same effect. The problem with this criterion is its
subjectivity and its correlation with the design application. As the studied effects for
each application will be different, the criterion is application dependent. The rainfall
volumes over a certain aggregation level (storm duration) will be critical for these
points in a sewer system with a concentration time equal to the storm duration.
Therefore, two rainfall events over this storm duration will lead to two different effects,
if there is a period of at least the storm duration (concentration time) in between.
This leads to an independency criterion which specifies that a rainfall volume is taken
into account if in a period equal to the aggregation period antecedent and posterior to
the considered rainfall volume no higher or equal rainfall volume occurs.
Furthermore, two effects can be observed as dependent (thus as one event) if they are
situated close in time (e.g. two overflow events in a few hours). This is based more on
the psychological perception of the effect, than on an objectively defined criterion.
For sewer system design, it can for instance be assumed that two effects are
independent if they do not occur on the same day or night. The independency criterion
is then implemented as follows : two events are independent if in 12 hours before and
12 hours after the event no higher (or equal) event occurs. This choice is made to limit
the subjectivity of the criterion, by preventing the need to make an arbitrary choice for
the time that a new day or night starts.

2.4

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

Finally, this leads to an overall independency criterion which specifies that


a rainfall volume is independent if in a certain period antecedent and posterior to
the considered rainfall volume no larger or equal rainfall volume occurs. For this
period the maximum between 12 hours and the aggregation period is assumed.
For an aggregation period equal to N times the rainfall time step, there are N possible
ways to aggregate the rainfall volumes. If all these N possibilities are used together,
additional dependent rainfall volumes are introduced. It is absolutely necessary to
consider all N possible combinations and extract the local maximum rainfall volumes
(using a moving window), to obtain an accurate estimation of the extreme rainfall
volumes for the specific aggregation period. These additional dependent rainfall
volumes are however automatically eliminated using the above-mentioned
independency criterion. If all N aggregation possibilities are considered separately and
the IDF-relationships are determined as the mean of these N different
IDF-relationships, the rainfall volumes will be underestimated (by averaging).
This corresponds with IDF-relationships based on rainfall with a time step equal to the
storm duration. The other way around, this means that the rainfall intensities are
underestimated for storm durations near to the rainfall time step.
In figure 2.2 an overview is given of the generally applied methodology to determine
the IDF-relationships. Based on the extreme value estimation (see paragraph 2.1.5),
it could be concluded that the monotonic ranking method (see paragraph 2.1.4) can be
used for return periods up to 1 year and that the extreme value estimation must be used
for return periods starting from 2 years to obtain the highest accuracy [Vaes et al.,
1994c, d].

Figure 2.2 : Overview of the methodology to determine the IDF-relationships.

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.5

2.1.4 The resulting new IDF-relationships


The independency criterion might have a large effect on the IDF-relationships.
Therefore, it is necessary to introduce a specific independency criterion for each
application. If no specific independency criterion is used to distinguish two effects
which occur within a short period, a lower limit for the return period
(i.e. an upper limit for the intensity and frequency) is obtained. To eliminate
clustering of rainfall of the same nature this independency criterion is necessary in
order to prevent overdesign. Experience with the rainfall data of Uccle has shown that
the influence of this independency criterion is however very small and that clustering
rarely occurs for return periods higher than or equal to 1 year. For more frequent
rainfall the independency criterion is needed. Using this approach, a satisfactory
mean IDF-relationship is obtained. However, this is a misleading terminology,
because of the clustering of rainfall. For instance, a rainfall event with a return period
of 2 years may occur twice in one year or not at all in 5 years.
The IDF-relationships, which are obtained by the application of the monotone ranking
technique, are shown in figure 2.3 for frequencies between 1 and 20 p.a. (the numerical
values are listed in appendix A.1). As the original rainfall series covers a time span of
only 27 years, these IDF-relationships become more inaccurate for higher return
periods. In that case extreme value theory should be used (see paragraph 2.1.5).

rainfall intensity (mm/h)


100

1 /year

10

2 /year
5 /year
10 /year

20 /year

0.1
10

100

storm
duration
1000
(minutes)

Figure 2.3 : IDF-relationships for Uccle for frequencies between 1 and 20 p.a.
using the monotone ranking technique for independent rainfall volumes.

2.6

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

To make IDF-relationships easier to use, they are often approximated by regression


curves. For hydrological phenomena often a hyperbolic relation exists between
the amplitude and the duration, in this case the intensity i and the storm duration )t.
The Talbot-Montana formula often gives good results (a1, a2 and a3 are regression
parameters) [Demare, 1985] :
(2.1)
This formula leads to a linear relationship in a double logarithmic coordinate system
using a constant shift a2 for the storm duration. For the IDF-relationships for Uccle
this formula does not give satisfactory regression results for all storm durations.
Therefore, an extension with a second-order term in a double logarithmic coordinate
system has been proposed in this study. This modified Talbot-Montana formula then
becomes :
(2.2)
Or :
(2.3)
The extra regression parameter a4 is especially necessary to fit the small storm
durations. The regression coefficients are presented in table 2.1.
As the time step in the historical rainfall series is 10 minutes and this is also the
smallest storm duration considered, the question rises if the bending in the curves for
small storm durations is not due to the averaging within the rainfall time step. In that
case this bending should not be incorporated in the fitting, because an underestimation
of the 10 minutes peak rainfall is obtained. This requires further attention, but the
effect of it phases out significantly for storm durations of 20, 30, ... minutes and this is
thus of minor importance for design applications.
In figure 2.4 the fitting of the IDF-relationships for frequencies between 1 and 10 p.a.
is shown for storm durations up to 720 minutes. The fitted IDF-relationships are listed
in appendix A.2.

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.7

Table 2.1 : Regression coefficients for the IDF-relationships for frequencies


between 1 and 20 p.a. and storm durations between 10 and 720 minutes.
frequency
(p.a.)

2.8

regression coefficients
a1

a2

a3

a4

1582.844

14.36867

1.26778

- 0.094137

2517.828

17.37187

1.54020

- 0.156110

241.519

5.17747

0.83104

- 0.026011

134.960

3.59031

0.66541

0.006106

43.081

- 3.34774

0.30920

0.074643

48.737

- 1.33084

0.38552

0.056565

53.513

- 0.36559

0.44984

0.041244

55.995

0.84588

0.48095

0.035051

63.669

2.35176

0.54523

0.021303

10

47.347

0.74991

0.45944

0.038036

11

41.887

1.23952

0.42563

0.045611

12

38.843

1.17893

0.41168

0.048418

13

31.885

- 0.77606

0.35975

0.058012

14

33.058

0.30195

0.38236

0.053515

15

32.163

0.79145

0.38115

0.054113

16

35.931

2.34597

0.42473

0.046139

17

30.211

0.59111

0.37697

0.055318

18

29.247

1.41954

0.36850

0.058166

19

24.792

1.15932

0.31684

0.068966

20

21.208

- 0.52011

0.27076

0.078386

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

rainfall intensity (mm/h)


100

1 /year
2 /year
5 /year
10 /year

10

1
10

100

storm
duration
1000
(minutes)

Figure 2.4 : Fitting for the IDF-relationships for frequencies between 1 and 10 p.a.
(markers = original ranked data, lines = fitting).

2.1.5 The use of extreme value estimation for high return periods
For increasing return periods the IDF-relationships become more inaccurate if only the
monotonic ranking method is used. Therefore, extreme value analyses were performed
by Willems [Willems, 1998c; Vaes et al., 1994c, d, 1996]. An upper limit of
360 minutes for the storm duration was chosen, because in sewer design larger
concentration times rarely occur for the high return periods. If longer storm durations
would be included, the accuracy for the small storm duration would decrease.
The peak over threshold method was applied, which means that all rainfall volumes
that exceed a certain threshold i0 are selected from the historical rainfall series. The
120 most extreme (independent) rainfall volumes were used for each storm duration
between 10 and 360 minutes (partial duration series). This leads to the overall
optimal threshold. Different types of distributions were tested and the best fit was
obtained with the exponential distribution.
An exponential distribution leads to the following relationship for the return period
T (in [years]) as a function of the rainfall intensity i (in [mm/h]) :
(2.4)

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.9

In this formula, n is the length of the historical rainfall series (= 27 years) and m the
number of extreme rainfall volumes used (= 120). The two parameters of this
distribution i0 (threshold intensity) and $ (mean intensity) are the characterising
intensities for the distribution (both in [mm/h]). Because these parameters behave as
intensities, they can be fitted as a function of the storm duration )t (in [min]) using the
modified Talbot-Montana formula (equation (2.2)), which leads to :
(2.5)
(2.6)
In figure 2.5 the IDF-relationships are shown for return periods of 2, 5, 10 and 20 years
obtained with this extreme value estimation.
Since the implementation of the new guidelines for sewer system design in 1996,
these IDF-relationships were introduced for common use in Flanders [VMM, 1996].
In appendix A.3 these IDF-relationships are listed in numerical form.
rainfall intensity (mm/h)
100

10

20 years
10 years
5 years
2 years

1
10

100

storm duration (minutes)

1000

Figure 2.5 : IDF-relationships for return periods of 2, 5, 10 and 20 years


(from bottom to top).

2.10

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

2.2

Comparison with earlier design rainfall

2.2.1 IDF-relationships of Demare


In the absence of powerful computer tools in the past, the method of periodic maxima
was popular to determine the IDF-relationships, as was used by Demare [1985] who
used yearly maxima. This method leads to an underestimation of the rainfall intensities
(or an overestimation of the return periods), which has been shown theoretically
[Demare, 1985] and practically [Vaes et al., 1994c, d, 1996; Willems, 1998c].
For larger return periods these differences become smaller. The disadvantage of the
method of yearly maxima is that it cannot lead to IDF-relationships for return periods
smaller than 2 years. In table 2.2 the comparison between the IDF-relationships of
Demare [1985] and the new IDF-relationships (equations (2.4) to (2.6)) is shown.
The underestimation of the rainfall intensities for low return periods using the yearly
maxima is obvious. Furthermore, smaller rainfall intensities are found with the new
IDF-relationships for the short storm durations. This could point to the intrinsic
averaging within the time step of 10 minutes in the rainfall series used for the new IDFrelationships, because Demare started from rainfall without this averaging (time step
accuracy of about 1 minute). However, there are differences over the whole range of
storm durations and return periods, which may be due to the difference in methodology
and different rainfall periods. The IDF-relationships of Demare were commonly used
as block hyetographs for design calculations in Flanders. Also the IDF-relationships
in the guidelines of 1987 were based on the work of Demare [Berlamont, 1987].

2.2.2 IDF-relationships of Laurant


In 1976, Laurant published IDF-relationships for Uccle, based on the rainfall series for
the period 1934-1973. To determine these IDF-relationships the monotonic ranking
method was used. The IDF-relationships were determined for storm durations up to
360 minutes. Then a formula was fit to the IDF-relationships [Laurant, 1976] :

6.644 log (T + 9)
log i = 9.68 0.835
0.65 log T 4387
. t 0.00735

(2.7)

6.644 log (T + 9)
10.312 0.835
+ 0.9 log T + 46.37

in which i is the rainfall intensity in [mm/h], T is the return period in [year] and )t is
the storm duration in [min]. Some of the resulting IDF-relationships are listed in
table 2.3. The differences with the new IDF-relationships are mainly due to the
different rainfall period which has been used and due to the differences in independency
criterion. The independency criterion of Laurant is less strict, which can lead to higher
intensities, especially for more frequent rainfall events. The higher intensities for small

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.11

storm durations probably have the same cause as for the IDF-relationships of Demare
(see paragraph 2.2.1), i.e. the smaller time step for the rainfall data.

Table 2.2 : Comparison of the IDF-relationships of Demare [1985] (first row)


and the new IDF-relationships (second row) (see paragraph 2.1.5)
(intensities in [mm/h]). In the third row the relative difference is given.
storm
duration
[minutes]

10

20

30

60

120

240

360

2.12

return period [years]


2

10

20

51.1

69

80.8

92.2

52.4

65.4

75.2

85

2.5%

-5.5%

-7.4%

-8.5%

33.6

46.3

54.7

62.7

37.2

46.5

53.6

60.6

9.7%

0.4%

-2.1%

-3.5%

25.2

35

41.6

47.8

29

36.3

41.8

47.2

13.1%

3.6%

0.5%

-1.3%

15.1

20.9

24.8

28.4

17.8

22.1

25.4

28.6

15.2%

5.4%

2.4%

0.7%

12.3

14.5

16.6

10.4

12.7

14.5

16.3

13.5%

3.2%

0.0%

-1.8%

5.4

7.3

8.5

9.7

7.2

8.2

9.1

10.0%

-1.4%

-3.7%

-6.6%

3.9

5.3

6.2

7.1

4.3

5.2

5.8

6.5

9.3%

-1.9%

-6.9%

-9.2%

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

Table 2.3 : Comparison of the IDF-relationships of Laurant [1976] (first row)


and the new IDF-relationships (second row) (see paragraph 2.1.4)
(intensities in [mm/h]). In the third row the relative difference is given.
storm
duration
[minutes]

10

20

30

60

120

240

360

frequency [1/years]
1

10

40.77

34.25

27.36

23.14

41.91

32.34

21.34

14.49

2.7%

-5.9%

-28.2%

-59.7%

24.98

21.05

15.88

14.31

29.79

23.18

13.97

10.1

16.1%

9.2%

-13.7%

-41.7%

18.74

15.82

12.71

10.8

23.26

18.14

11.01

8.08

19.4%

12.8%

-15.4%

-33.7%

11.44

9.69

7.81

6.65

14.34

11.2

7.29

5.43

20.2%

13.5%

-7.1%

-22.5%

6.96

5.92

4.79

4.09

8.47

6.63

4.75

3.58

17.8%

10.7%

-0.8%

-14.2%

4.23

3.61

2.93

2.51

4.95

3.94

3.02

2.32

14.5%

8.4%

3.0%

-8.2%

3.15

2.7

2.2

1.88

3.63

2.94

2.29

1.79

13.2%

8.2%

3.9%

-5.0%

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.13

2.2.3 English design storms


In paragraph 1.4.3 the (south-east) English design storms were discussed, which were
introduced in Flanders in 1992 [WS, 1992]. The rainfall generator version 1.44,
within the software Spida version 2.1, was to some extent calibrated to the
IDF-relationships of Demare [1985] and thus mainly contains the same differences
with the new IDF-relationships as illustrated in table 2.2.
This calibration however was only performed for return periods higher than or equal
to 2 years. For more frequent rainfall (frequencies higher than or equal to 1 p.a.)
the original (south-east) English storms were used. In figure 2.6, the relative
underestimations, as compared with the new IDF-relationships (see paragraph 2.1.4),
are shown for the English design storms with frequencies between 5 and 14 p.a.

Figure 2.6 : Relative errors on the English design storms


as compared with the new IDF-relationships (see paragraph 2.1.4)
for storms with frequencies f between 5 and 14 p.a.

2.14

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

2.3

Composite storms

2.3.1 Concept for the composite design storms


It was clear from the analysis of the previously used design rainfall (see paragraph 2.2),
that new design storms were needed, specifically developed for the Flemish situation.
The new IDF-relationships form a solid base for this. For this reason new design
storms were developed in this work. The storms are determined in such a way that
only one storm is necessary for one frequency or return period, while before for
each storm duration a separate storm was needed. All storm durations up to
the maximum included storm duration are combined in one single storm. For this
reason these storms are called composite storms. These composite storms are
analogous to the well-known Chicago-storms [Keifer & Chu, 1957].
The composite storms are determined by setting out the rainfall volumes (hatched area)
from the IDF-relationship symmetrically around the centre of the storm starting from
the shortest storm duration (10 minutes) till the longest storm duration )tmax (figure
2.7).

Figure 2.7 : Schematic representation for the development of a composite storm.

The instantaneous rainfall intensity r(t) within the composite storm can then be
described by the following differential equation as a function of the rainfall intensity
i()t) from the IDF-relationships [Vaes & Berlamont, 1995] :

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.15

(2.8)
wherein the time t can be introduced as a function of the storm duration )t (figure 2.7) :
(2.9)
To develop these composite storms, the fitted IDF-relationships were used to avoid
a non-monotonous curve. To serve as rainfall input for numerical calculations,
the design storms must be discretised. As the initial rainfall time step was 10 minutes
and the nature of this composite storms leads to a time step halving (half of the duration
at each side of the symmetry axis), the composite storms are discretised with a time step
of 5 minutes.
Composite storms were developed for return periods starting from 2 years using
the IDF-relationships based on the extreme value estimations for storm durations up to
)tmax equal to 360 minutes (see paragraph 2.1.5). These composite storms can be used
for design applications. Since the new guidelines of 1996 for sewer system design,
these composite storms are commonly introduced for hydrodynamic simulations
in Flanders [VMM, 1996; Aquafin, 1996]. An example is shown in figure 2.8.
Also composite storms were developed for frequencies between 1 and 20 p.a. using
the IDF-relationships based on the monotone ranking technique (after fitting) for storm
durations up to )tmax = 720 minutes (see paragraph 2.1.4). These storms may be used
for impact calculations. All these composite storms are included in the (in Flanders)
currently used software Hydroworks, starting from version 4.0 [WS, 1998].
rainfall intensity (mm/h)
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

6
time (hour)

Figure 2.8 : Composite storm for a return period of 2 years.

2.16

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

2.3.2 Antecedent and posterior rainfall


Besides the rainfall during the critical storm duration, also the rainfall that occurs in
a period antecedent and posterior to this critical storm duration can have an effect on
the design. The antecedent rainfall determines whether a sewer system is already
partially filled and thus less storage in the system is available. The posterior rainfall
can possibly magnify the effect of the rainfall during the selected critical storm
duration. Therefore, it would be interesting if also the mean antecedent and posterior
rainfall could be included in the design storms.
The composite storms already have an intrinsic antecedent and posterior rainfall
included (figure 2.7). The antecedent rainfall, which is significant for a specific
storm duration, is the rainfall during that storm duration, that precedes the
critical storm duration. The same is valid for the posterior rainfall that follows the
considered storm duration in the period equal to that storm duration. These intrinsic
antecedent and posterior rainfall within the composite storms are checked with the
antecedent and posterior rainfall within the original rainfall series of 27 years.
However, the antecedent and posterior rainfall within the historical rainfall series,
which correspond with a specific rainfall intensity over a specific duration, are not just
one value, but cover a whole distribution of rainfall intensities. In figure 2.9 the
antecedent rainfall is shown for a storm duration of 60 minutes for the historical rainfall
series as compared with these for the composite storms. Antecedent and posteriori
conditions for other storm durations can be found in [Vaes & Berlamont, 1995]. In this
figure 2.9, the mean rainfall intensity during the antecedent period is presented
relatively to the mean rainfall intensity during the considered storm duration. This ratio
(on the vertical axis) is presented as a function of the mean rainfall intensity during the
considered storm duration (on the horizontal axis). A black square represents the
antecedent rainfall within 60 minutes preceding the central 60 minutes in the composite
storm. Each black square represents the antecedent rainfall for one composite storm
with a different frequency of return period. The grey dots represent the medians for the
antecedent rainfall within 60 minutes preceding any rainfall event in the original
rainfall series with a mean intensity over a duration of 60 minutes equal to the intensity
on the horizontal axis. The vertical grey bars give the 68 % interval for this distribution
and the horizontal dashes represent the limits of the 90 % interval. In figure 2.10 the
same comparison is shown for the posterior rainfall. From these figures it is clear that
there is a huge deviation on the antecedent and posterior rainfall. When the medians
of the antecedent and posterior rainfall from the original rainfall series are compared,
small differences are observed. The antecedent rainfall is smaller than the posterior
rainfall, especially for high rainfall intensities (figure 2.11). For very small rainfall
intensities it gives the opposite difference. This means that there should be a skewness
in the composite storms with a faster rising branch and a slower falling branch.
However, the variability of the antecedent and posterior rainfall (as a function of
the rainfall intensities) is higher than the observed overall difference between both
(figures 2.8, 2.9 & 2.10). This shows that the initial assumption of a symmetric storm
Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.17

profile is acceptable.

Figure 2.9 : Antecedent rainfall for a storm duration of 60 minutes


for the composite storms as compared with those of the original rainfall series.

2.18

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

Figure 2.10 : Posteriori rainfall for a storm duration of 60 minutes


for the composite storms as compared with those of the original rainfall series.

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.19

0.8

median antecedent or posterior intensity


IDF-intensity

0.7
antecedent condities

0.6

posteriori condities
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
0

10

11
12
13
14
IDF-intensity (mm/h)

Figure 2.11 : Comparison between the medians of the antecedent and the posterior
rainfall for a storm duration of 60 minutes.

2.3.3 Applicability of composite storms


The new composite storms for sewer system design incorporate the new
IDF-relationships for storm durations between 10 and 360 minutes for the high return
periods (starting from 2 years) and between 10 and 720 minutes for the more frequent
storms. The longer maximum storm duration for the more frequent storms is justified
by the higher concentration times which occur at lower flow rates. For storm durations
up to one third of the total storm duration the mean antecedent and posterior rainfall are
incorporated well (figure 2.7). For higher storm durations the antecedent and posterior
rainfall is gradually underestimated. As only rainfall data were available with a time
step of 10 minutes, no smaller storm durations could be incorporated. Moreover,
the IDF-relationships for 10 minutes are slightly underestimated, because of the
intrinsic averaging over the time step. This will however not significantly influence the
design calculations, because the concentration times will rarely be smaller than 15
minutes. It is anyway generally accepted to use storm durations no smaller than 15
minutes for design calculations [Berlamont, 1987; VMM, 1996].
As an example, in figure 2.12 and 2.13, two Spida storms with durations of 60 and
720 minutes (rainfall generator version 1.44 [WS, 1994]) are compared with
the composite storm for a return period of 1 year. A more detailed application of these
composite storms for design calculations is discussed in chapter 5 and the application
for impact calculations is discussed in chapter 6.

2.20

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

intensity (mm/h)

45
40

composite storm

35

Spida storm 60 min

30
25
20
15
10
5
0
0

60

120

180

240

300

360

420

480

540

600

660 720
time (min)

Figure 2.12 : Comparison between the composite storm


with a return period of 1 year and the Spida storm
for a duration of 60 minutes and a return period of 1 year.
intensity (mm/h)

45
40

composite storm

35

Spida storm 720 min

30
25
20
15
10
5
0
0

60

120

180

240

300

360

420

480

540

600 660 720


time (min)

Figure 2.13 : Comparison between the composite storm


with a return period of 1 year and the Spida storm
for a duration of 720 minutes and a return period of 1 year.

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.21

2.3.4 Composite storms for long durations


When concentration times become larger than 360 minutes the previously composed
design storms are no longer sufficient. Such high concentration times can be
necessary for large catchments and when pervious areas have to be incorporated.
Furthermore, the antecedent and posterior rainfall are gradually underestimated for
storm durations larger than 120 minutes. For these reasons, special composite storms
were developed in this work for long durations, based on IDF-relationships for
durations from 1 hour to 15 days with a time step of 1 hour. As these storms will
serve for design calculations for return periods between 2 and even 2000 years, extreme
value estimations are necessary. These extreme value estimations have been made by
Willems [Willems, 1998d; Willems et al., 1999]. The peak over threshold method was
applied. The same independency criterion is used as discussed in paragraph 2.1.3,
which means that for storm durations larger than 12 hours all effects are treated as
independent. The extreme value estimation shows that for these larger storm durations
the distribution G(x) for the rainfall intensity i (in [mm/h]) is a two component
exponential distribution [Willems, 1998d; Willems et al., 1999] :
(2.10)
With :
(2.11)

(2.12)
The parameters i0 (threshold intensity), $a and $b (mean intensities) and the
proportionality factor p in equations (2.10) till (2.12) are fitted as a function of the
storm duration )t using the Montana formula [Demare, 1985] :
(2.13)
(2.14)
(2.15)
(2.16)
The parameters i0, $a and $b are expressed in [mm/h] and the storm duration is in [days].
The first component Ga(i) leads to peaked storms, while the second component Gb(i)
leads to more flattened storms. The assumption was made that this originates from the
differences in rainfall in summer (thunderstorms) and in winter (frontal storms).
To investigate this, the rainfall series was divided in two periods : a summer period
from April till September and a winter period from October till March (other divisions
in semesters were checked, but they did not give a more clear divergence in the
IDF-relationships). Then, it was checked whether the derived distributions for these

2.22

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

two periods, the summer distribution Gs(i) and the winter distribution Gw(i), can be
written as a function of the previously found two exponential components :
(2.17)
(2.18)
This comparison showed that the winter distribution Gw(i) corresponds very well to the
second component Gb(i). This means that pw is approximately 0. The summer
distribution Gs(i) remains a function of both exponential components Ga(i) and Gb(i) of
the global distribution. The first component Ga(i) yields a dominant contribution to the
short storm durations and gradually decreases in importance for increasing storm
durations.
A better estimation of the extreme rainfall events for the long durations is obtained if
the component Ga(i) is slightly adjusted to Ga*(i) [Willems, 1998d; Willems et al.,
1999] :
(2.19)
With :

*a = a + b ( 1 )

(2.20)


= 1 exp 40 p* 0113
.

(2.21)
(2.22)

The return period T [years] can be calculated from the global distribution as :
(2.23)
Wherein :

n is the number of years in the time series, i.e. 27 years


m is the number of values above the threshold intensity i0

The superposition of the two seasonal distributions Gs(i) and Gw(i) must lead to the
same return period as for the global distribution G(i). The sum of the frequency of
a rainfall intensity in summer (fs = 1/Ts) and the frequency of the same rainfall intensity
in winter (fw = 1/Tw) is equal to the frequency of that rainfall intensity in one year
(f = 1/T) :
f = f w + fs

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

(2.24)

2.23

or :
1
1
1
=
+
T Tw Ts

(2.25)

The return period T can be obtained analogously as illustrated for different boundary
conditions in paragraph 5.5.2 and figure 5.13.
Using equations (2.23), (2.10), (2.12) and (2.19), equation (2.24) leads to :
m ( 1 G (i) ) = m m p* G*a (i) + m 1 p* G b (i)

(2.26)

Using equations (2.23), (2.17) and (2.18) the right hand side of the equation (2.24)
leads to (in the assumption that pw = 0 and m = ms + mw) :

ms 1 G s (i) + mw 1 G w (i)
m p

= m ms ps G*a (i) + m 1 s s G b (i)


m

(2.27)

Equalising equations (2.26) and (2.27) leads to :


(2.28)
The return period for the summer storms then becomes (in [ year]) :
n
Ts =
ms 1 G s (i)
n
=
m p* 1 G*a (i) + ms m p* 1 G b (i)

(2.29)

and for the winter storms (in [ year]) :


n
Tw =
mw 1 G w ( i)

( m ms )( 1 G b (i) )

(2.30)

In these formulas the parameters m and ms are function of the storm duration via the
threshold intensity i0 (in [mm/h]) (equation 2.15) :
(2.31)

(2.32)
The matching IDF-relationships are listed in appendix A.4 for the summer storms and
in appendix A.5 for the winter storms.

2.24

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

Based on these IDF-relationships for long storm durations, composite storms have been
determined with a time step of hour (half of the time step used for the
IDF-relationships) for return periods between 2 and 2000 years [Vaes et al., 1998a, b].
As the initial rainfall series only contained 27 years of rainfall, this is a large
extrapolation, which must be handled with care. As an example, in figure 2.15
a composite summer storm is shown with a return period of 10 years, while in
figure 2.16 a composite winter storm is shown with the same return period.
In figure 2.14 the central part (1 day) of both storms is compared for a return period of
5 years.
22

rainfall intensity (mm/h)

20
18

winter storm

16

summer storm

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
168

171

174

177

180

183

186

189

192

time (hours)

Figure 2.14 : Comparison of the central part (1 day) of the composite summer and
winter storms for long durations for a return period of 5 years.

These seasonal varying IDF-relationships and composite storms can be compared for
the central part with the composite storms which were developed in paragraph 2.3.1
for the application in sewer system design. The summer IDF-relationships for storm
durations up to 6 hours correspond very well to those for sewer system design.
This shows that design storms for short storm durations and high return periods are
mainly based on summer storms (thunderstorms). This was already shown in
figure 1.5. For long storm durations, the influence of the rainfall in other seasons gains
importance. For very high return periods the differences between the summer storms
and the composite storms for sewer system design become larger, because the
uncertainty increases strongly for these extreme value estimations.

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.25

intensity (mm/h)
24
22
20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
0

10

11

12

13 14 15
time (day)

Figure 2.15 : Summer composite storm for long durations


for a return period of 10 years.

intensity (mm/h)
10
8
6
4
2
0
0

10

11

12

13 14 15
time (day)

Figure 2.16 : Winter composite storm for long durations


for a return period of 10 years.

2.26

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design

An important additional reason to separate summer and winter storms is that the initial
and boundary conditions for rainfall runoff from pervious areas can differ significantly
in the different seasons. The storms have to be used with the proper corresponding
parameters for the state of the catchment. Because these state parameters are very
important for pervious areas and for long concentration times, the intrinsic variability
of the rainfall becomes more important. Therefore, these composite storms (with only
mean rainfall included) can only provide a rough estimation of the relationships
between return period and flow or water level.

2.3.5 The effect of rain water storage tanks on design storms


The effect of source control (i.e. limiting the rainfall input) on the design of combined
sewer systems can in most cases only be correctly assessed using the full variability of
the rainfall in time, because long antecedent periods can have an important influence.
This is for example true for rain water tanks and infiltration trenches. For rain water
tanks the antecedent rainfall up to one month before may have an effect.
To incorporate the effect of rain water tanks on the sewer system design, a model was
built to assess the effect of a rain water tank on the historical rainfall series and to
incorporate this effect into a modified composite storm. For this, a simple reservoir
model is used with a constant outflow equal to the mean rain water use.
In figure 2.17 the overview of the implemented methodology is shown [Vaes
& Berlamont, 1998b].
The outflow of the rain water tank model is converted to equivalent rainfall.
A reduction coefficient is determined as the ratio of the IDF-relationship for this
equivalent flattened rainfall over the corresponding IDF-relationship for the original
rainfall series. The original composite storms are corrected with this reduction
coefficient which is (approximately) a linear function of the storm duration.
As the rainfall data have a large intrinsic variability, certainly for high return periods,
a specific regression is needed, corresponding to the extreme values estimations for the
original IDF-relationships. However, the rain water tank model appears to change the
type of the extreme value distribution. The very extreme rainfall events are rarely
affected by the rain water tanks and thus still fit to the original exponential distribution.
The more frequent rainfall events are affected more by the smoothing caused by the
rain water tank and evolve to another exponential distribution. The resulting
distribution thus contains two exponential distributions which gradually fade into each
other. This compound distribution can be approximated by a Pareto distribution, at
least for interpolation as in this case. This Pareto distribution leads to a linear
relationship between rainfall intensity i and return period T in a double logarithmic
coordinate system :
(2.33)

Chapter 2 : IDF-relationships and design storms

2.27

The influence of this smoothing is more pronounced for small storm durations and for
rain water tanks with a large retention function. Depending on which regression will
give the best correlation, the exponential distribution will be kept or the Pareto
distribution will be used. The application of a simple regression will be sufficient in
this case, because no extrapolation will be made for return periods higher than the total
length of the original rainfall series. In the end a linear regression will be used on the
reduction coefficients as a function of the storm duration, to obtain a monotonous
modified composite storm.

Figure 2.17 : Overview of the methodology for the enclosure of


the effect of rain water tanks in modified composite storms.
As many parameters are involved, this methodology has been implemented in
a software program, which was called Rewaput [Vaes & Berlamont, 1998b].
The same methodology can be used to incorporate the effect of rainfall runoff models
or infiltration trenches into the design storms. As more and more source control is
applied, this approach will certainly lead to better rainfall input for design calculations
in the future.

2.28

The influence of rainfall and model simplification on combined sewer system design