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# de Ocampo, Randel Boris V.

29 April 2015

2012108007/ CE-3

Homework 3

Rational Method
The rational method is appropriate for estimating peak discharges for small drainage areas of
up to about 200 acres (80 hectares) with no significant flood storage. The method provides
the designer with a peak discharge value, but does not provide a time series of flow nor flow
volume.
Assumptions and Limitations
Use of the rational method includes the following assumptions and limitations:

The method is applicable if tc for the drainage area is less than the duration of peak rainfall
intensity.

## Rainfall intensity is uniform throughout the duration of the storm.

The frequency of occurrence for the peak discharge is the same as the frequency of the
rainfall producing that event.

## Rainfall is distributed uniformly over the drainage area.

The minimum duration to be used for computation of rainfall intensity is 10 minutes. If the
time of concentration computed for the drainage area is less than 10 minutes, then 10
minutes should be adopted for rainfall intensity computations.

The rational method does not account for storage in the drainage area. Available storage is
assumed to be filled.

The above assumptions and limitations are the reason the rational method is limited to
watersheds 200 acres or smaller. If any one of these conditions is not true for the watershed
of interest, the designer should use an alternative method.
The rational method represents a steady inflow-outflow condition of the watershed during
the peak intensity of the design storm. Any storage features having sufficient volume that
they do not completely fill and reach a steady inflow-outflow condition during the duration
of the design storm cannot be properly represented with the rational method. Such features
include detention ponds, channels with significant volume, and floodplain storage. When
these features are present, an alternate rainfall-runoff method is required that accounts for
the time-varying nature of the design storm and/or filling/emptying of floodplain storage. In
these cases, the hydrograph method is recommended.

The steps in developing and applying the rational method are illustrated in Figure 4-8.

## Procedure for using the Rational Method

The rational formula estimates the peak rate of runoff at a specific location in a watershed as
a function of the drainage area, runoff coefficient, and mean rainfall intensity for a duration
equal to the time of concentration. The rational formula is:

Equation 4-20.
Where:

## Q = maximum rate of runoff (cfs or m3/sec.)

C = runoff coefficient

## Z = conversion factor, 1 for English, 360 for metric

Rainfall Intensity
With the drainage area A and design AEP known, the designer will determine appropriate
values of I and C for use in Equation 4-20. I is given by:

Equation 4-21.

## Table 4-10: Runoff Coefficients for Urban Watersheds

Type of drainage area

Runoff coefficient

Downtown areas

0.70-0.95

Neighborhood areas

0.30-0.70

Residential:
Single-family areas

0.30-0.50

Multi-units, detached

0.40-0.60

Multi-units, attached

0.60-0.75

Suburban

0.35-0.40

## Apartment dwelling areas

0.30-0.70

Industrial:
Light areas

0.30-0.80

Heavy areas

0.60-0.90

Parks, cemeteries

0.10-0.25

Playgrounds

0.30-0.40

0.30-0.40

Unimproved areas:
Sand or sandy loam soil, 0-3%

0.15-0.20

0.20-0.25

0.18-0.25

0.25-0.30

0.70-0.80

0.05-0.15

## Steep grassed slopes

0.70

Lawns:
Sandy soil, flat 2%

0.05-0.10

0.10-0.15

0.15-0.20

0.13-0.17

0.18-0.22

0.25-0.35

Streets:
Asphaltic

0.85-0.95

Concrete

0.90-0.95

Brick

0.70-0.85

0.75-0.95

Roofs

0.75-0.95

Where:

## tc = drainage area time of concentration (hr.)

Values of Pd for use in Equation 4-21 are found in the Atlas of Depth-Duration Frequency
(DDF) of Precipitation Annual Maxima for Texas (TxDOT 5-1301-01-1). The atlas includes 96
maps depicting the spatial variation of the DDF of precipitation annual maxima for Texas. The
AEPs represented are 50%, 20%, 10%, 4%, 2%, 1%, 0.4%, and 0.2% (2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-, 100-,
250-, and 500-years). The storm durations represented are 15 and 30 minutes; 1, 2, 3, 6, and
12 hours; and 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 days.
In most cases, the computed value of tc will not exactly match the durations provided in the
atlas, i.e. tc = 4 hours. In these cases, the designer can obtain the depth for the desired
duration by performing a log-log interpolation between depth-duration pairs provided in the
atlas. This process is illustrated in Figure 4-16.
Runoff Coefficients
Urban Watersheds
Table 4-10 suggests ranges of C values for urban watersheds for various combinations of land
use and soil/surface type. This table is typical of design guides found in civil engineering texts
dealing with hydrology.

Example
A project is to be built in southwest Campbell County, Virginia. The following information was
determined from field measurement and/or proposed design data:

Drainage Area:
30%
10%
20%
40%

80 acres

## Rooftops (24 acres)

Streets and driveways (8 acres)
Average lawns @ 5% slope on sandy soil (16 acres)
Woodland (32 acres)

## LO = 200 ft. (4% slope or 0.04 ft./ft.); average grass lawn.

LSC = 1000 ft. (4% slope or 0.04 ft./ft.); paved ditch.
LC = 2000 ft. (1% slope or 0.01 ft./ft.); stream channel.

Goal
Your goal is to find the peak runoff from the 2-year frequency storm.

Solution
1. Drainage area (A) = 80 acres (given).
2. Determine the runoff coefficient (C):
Area C
Rooftops 24 0.9 = 21.6
Streets
8 0.9 = 7.2

Lawns
16 0.15 = 2.4
Woodland 32 0.10 = 3.2
Total
80
34.4
3.

## 4. Determine the hydraulic path: This has already been given.

5. Determine flow regimes:
a. Overland flow (LO) = 15 minutes (using Seelye chart).
b. Shallow concentrated flow (LSC):
1. Velocity = 4 feet/second (using Diagram 1).
2. LSC = 4.2 minutes (based on the following calculations).

## c. Channel flow (LC):

1. Change in elevation = 20 feet (based on the following calculations).
2000 feet 0.01 = 20 feet
2. LC = 13 minutes (using Kirpitch chart).

## 6. Time of Concentration = 32.2 minutes (based on the following calculations).

1. Tc = Lo + Lsc + Lc
Tc = 15 + 4.2 + 13
Tc = 32.2

2. Intensity = 2.3 in/hr (based on 2-year storm I-D-F curve for Pittsylvania County).

## 3. Peak discharge = 79.1 cfs (based on the following calculations).

Q=CiA
Q = (0.43) (2.3) (80)
Q = 79.1