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Storm Water Hydrology
Dr. Akepati S. Reddy
Associate Professor, Thapar University
Patiala (PUNJAB) – 147 004
Aspects covered
• Watersheds and their characteristics
– Drainage systems of watersheds; Urban watersheds and Urban storm
water systems
• Rainfall, effective rainfall and hyetographs and effective rainfall
hyetographs
– Rainfall and its fate; rain fall events and design rainfall events; effective
(net) rainfall
– Runoff and runoff coefficient; Rainfallrunoff models; and methods of
runoff estimations (US SCS method)
– Hyetographs and effective rainfall hyetographs (ERH)
• Time of concentration
– Methods of estimation of time of concentration: NRCS travel time
method and NRCS lag method
• Rational method of peak run off estimation and NRCS method of
peak runoff and volume runoff estimation
Aspects covered
• Hydrographs and hydrograph analysis
– Types of hydrographs: Hydrographs; Storm/flood hydrographs
and complex/compound storm hydrographs; Direct runoff
hydrographs (DRH); Unit hydrographs, Dimensionless unit
hydrograph, Synthetic unit hydrographs
– Deriving direct runoff hydrographs from the storm/flood
hydrographs
– Unit hydrographs and their derivation; Synthetic unit
hydrographs and their development; SCS Dimensionless Unit
hydrographs
– Unit hydrograph method for deriving Direct runoff hydrographs
and Storm/flood hydrographs
• Urban storm water; Estimation of design peak runoff rates
and volumes; Quantification of urban storm waters for quality
management
• Design of storm sewers and other constituents of an urban
storm water drainage system; Design of storm water retention
basins; Storm water treatment systems; and Groundwater
recharge wells
Hydrologic cycle
• Evapotranspiration (water vapor enters the atmosphere)
– Evaporation from ground and water surfaces
– transpiration by plant leaves
• Condensation
– Water changes state from vapor to liquid
– water vapor as it rises in the air, looses energy and cools down, and
then changes state into liquid or ice
• Precipitation
– Water being released from clouds as rain, sleet, snow or hail
– Occurs when the condensed water becomes too heavy to remain in
the atmospheric
• Infiltration and percolation
– The portion of precipitation seeping into the ground
– Interception, evaporation, stem flow and through flow
– Surface storage, soil moisture enrichment and evaporation
– Groundwater recharging
• Runoff
– Surface runoff, interflow & groundwater flow (direct flow & base flow)
– Rainfall and snow and ice melt contribute water
– Sheet flow, concentrated shallow flow and channel flow
Watershed
Definition
• Defined as all the land area that contributes storm water to the
watershed outlet (the point of interest at which our design begins)
Boundary for a watershed is delineated through using
• Topographic map (with topographic contours at elevation the
intervals of 0.5m or 1.0m or 1.5 m)
• Digital elevation/topographic data in the form of grid cells (of 30m
resolution and 1m elevation!) – digital terrain analysis is performed
for the delineation (GIS)
Watershed delineation involves
• Choosing the watershed outlet
• Drawing perpendicular lines across the contour lines to the
watershed outlet – arrows directed towards increasing elevation
are used
Urban areas to be served by a storm sewerage system can also
be divided into a multitude of drainage areas/watersheds
Watershed characteristics
• Catchment size or drainage area and catchment shape
– Drainage area (A): Larger the drainage area greater will be the
volume of storm water generated
• Watershed length, catchment slope and channel slope and
surface roughness
– Watershed length (L) – often labeled as hydrologic length
– Defined as the distance measured along the principal storm
water flow path (path where greatest volume of water would
travel) from the outlet to the divide of the basin
• Soil type (texture, structure and degree of disturbance) 
hydrologic soil groups A, B, C and –D
• Land use includes vegetation cover (type and density), crop
type, woods, roads, etc.
• Natural storage: ponding in natural depressions, lakes and
similar features  location, capacity and behavior of storage
Watershed characteristics
• Hydrologic conditions  can be poor (heavily grazed or having
<50% plant cover), fair (moderately grazed or having 7550%
plant cover) or good (lightly grazed or with >75% plant cover).
• Antecedent moisture conditions (initial degree of saturation)
 can be dry soil (I), normal soil (II) and wet soil (III)
• Number and efficiency of water courses
• Geology of the watershed and groundwater levels
• Land treatment  distribution of impervious and pervious
cover
– impervious area (directly connected and indirectly connected to
the drainage system)
– Impervious area flowing as concentrated shallow flow onto
pervious area &then into drainage system is directly connected
Hydrologic Soil Groups (HSG)
• HSGA: Low run off potential and high infiltration rates  Deep,
well drained sandy/gravelly soil  Water transmission rates:
>0.3 inch/hr.
• HSGB: Moderate infiltration/runoff rates  Moderately deep
and moderately draining soils  Moderately fine to moderately
coarse texture  Water transmission rates: 0.150.3 inch/hr.
• HSGC: Low infiltration rates and relatively high runoff rates 
Soils include layer impeding downward movement of water 
Moderately fine to fine soil texture  Water transmission rates:
0.050.15 inch/hr.
• HSGD: High runoff potential and very low infiltration rates 
Clay soils with high swelling potential, or soils with clay pan or
clay layer at or near surface, or shallow soil over nearly
impervious material  Water transmission rates: <0.05 inch/hr
Watershed Characteristics: Slope
Average watershed slope
• Divide the watershed into different slope areas and find there
area fractions
– Select representative location for each of the slope areas and
find slope in percent
– Multiply slope and fractional area for each of slope areas and
sum the resultant to obtain weighted average watershed slope
• Divide watershed into square grids, and, at the intersections
of grids measure slope perpendicular to the contours
– Take mean slope of all intersections as average watershed slope
Watershed channel slope
• Rate of change of elevation with respect to distance along the
principal flow path
• Divide the elevation difference (between the end points of
the principal flow path) with the hydrologic length (ΔE/L)
• The elevation difference may not be the maximum elevation
difference within the watershed
Watershed Characteristics: Shape
Watershed shape
• Reflects the way runoff will bunchup at the watershed outlet
• Depending on the shape various parts of the watersheds will reach
the outlet at different times
• Flood peaks produced vary with the watershed shape
Parameters used for describing the watershed shapes
( )
( )
m
o
e
m
e
C
C
ca
L
D
R
A
L
R ratio longation E
A
A
R ratio y Circularit
A
P
F ratio y Circularit
L L L f actor Shape
=

.

\

=
=
=
=
5 . 0
0
5 . 0
3 . 0
1
2
) (
) (
4
) (
. ) (
t
t
‘L
ca
’Length to the center of area
‘L’ is watershed length
‘P’ is perimeter of the watershed
‘A’ is area of the watershed
‘A
0
’ is area of a circle with the same
perimeter as the watershed
‘L
m
’ is the maximum length of the
watershed parallel to the principal
drainage line
‘Do is diameter of a circle of same area
Shape factor is considered as the best descriptor of peak discharge
Watershed Characteristics:
Drainage System
• Fate of precipitation
– Interception
• Evapotranspiration
• Stemflow and through flow to land
– Evaporation
– Infiltration
• Soil moisture
• Subsurface flow (interflow)
• Percolation to groundwater
– Groundwater flow (base flow)
– Surface runoff
• Direct flow (surface runoff + interflow) and Base flow
(groundwater flow)
• Net rainfall – rainfall that is available to flow to the outlet
(precipitation – losses)
Fate of precipitation in watersheds
Watershed drainage system
• Surface runoff of a watershed flows towards the outlet
– First as over land flow
– Then as shallow concentrated flow and
– Finally as channel flow
Shallow ponding of water (surface storage) can also occur (this
water is mostly lost through infiltration and evaporation)
• Channels/streams watersheds may be added with interflows
and base flows
– Channels can lose water for groundwater recharging, for
flooding land through overflowing and by evaporation
– Streams/channels can be ordered and watershed bifurcation
ratios were used to describe streams
• Described by three parameters, channel length, channel slope
and drainage density
Watershed length (L):
Channel length (Lc):
Channel length (L
1085
):
Watershed drainage system
• Channel length (L
c
or L
1085
):
– L
c
is distance measured along the main channel
from the watershed outlet to the end point of
the channel
– L
1085
is distance measured along the main
channel from 10% distance point to 85%
distance point
Channel end point identification is a subjective
thing
• Channel slope (S
c
)
– If the channel slope is not uniform then
weighted slope is considered
• Drainage density (D)
– Ratio of total length of the streams within the
watershed to the total area of the watershed
Typical values are 1.5/km to 6/km
Higher value indicates rapid storm response
A
L
D
L
E
S
L
E
S
t
c
c
c
=
A
=
A
=
÷
÷
÷
85 10
85 10
85 10
∆Ec is elevation difference
between lower and upper
channel ends
∆E
1085
is elevation
difference between L
10
and L
85
points
L
t
is total length of all the
streams of the watershed
A is watershed area
Watershed drainage system
1 ÷
=
K
b i
R N
N
i
is number of streams in the i
th
order
‘K’ is the principal stream order
R
b
is average of bifurcation ratios of different orders
(Horton developed) Law of stream numbers
Bifurcation ratio (R
b
): ratio of the number of streams of any order
to the number of streams of the next higher order
i
i
L
L
L
R
1 +
=
1
1
÷
=
i
L i
R L L
‘L
i
’ is average of length of i
th
order streams
R
L
is stream lengths ratio
(Horton proposed) Law of stream lengths (R
L
): Ratio of average
lengths of the streams of successive orders
i
i
A
A
A
R
1 +
=
‘A’ is drainage area of the i
th
order streams
(Schumm proposed) Law of stream areas (R
A
)
Stream order: Measure of the degree of stream branching
within a watershed
– ‘n
th
’ order stream is formed by ≥ 2 streams of (n1)
th
order
– Order of the principal channel is known as principal order
Urban watersheds
• Changed landscape and altered drainage patterns
– Storm water drains (replacing the channels/streams of natural
watersheds)
– Reduced vegetation cover, concrete surfaces, compacted soils
ion, and increased imperviousness
– Network of roads and fragmentation of land
• Buildings, roof top rain waters and rainwater harvesting
systems
• Contaminated storm waters
– Sewage
– Run off from waste disposal sites and contaminated surfaces
• Issues associated with storm waters
– Ponding/flooding of contaminated storm water (infested by
weeds, pests, files and mosquitoes and releasing bad odours)
– Percolation of polluted storm water (ground water pollution)
– Pollution of water bodies and land from storm water discharges
Urban storm water systems
• The purpose is to remove storm water from areas such as streets
and sidewalks
• This system consists of
– Inlets
– street and roadway gutters
– roadside ditches
– small channels and swales
– small underground pipe systems
• Collected storm water runoff is transported to structural BMP
facilities
– pervious areas and/or the major drainage system (natural waterways,
large manmade conduits, and large water impoundments)
• Design criteria and guidance on common drainage system
components
– Street and roadway gutters
– Inlets and storm drain pipe systems
– Culverts
– Vegetated and lined open channels
– Energy dissipation devices for outlet protection
Rainfall
• Rainfall is characterized by intensity, duration and frequency
• Intensity is defined as ratio of rainfall depth to duration and
expressed in mm/hr
• Intensity exhibits spatial and temporal variations
• For small urban watersheds (<200 acres area), spatial variations
are considered as negligible
• Hyetograph (a plot of rainfall intensity against time) is used to
describe the temporal variations
• Rainfall intensity is measured by continuously recording rainfall
on a autographic rain gauge
• Arid and semiarid region rainfall events are typically of short
duration, relatively high intensity and of limited areal extent –
conventional rains
• 2030% occur at >40 mm/hr. intensity and >50% of the rainfall
occurs at >20 mm/hr intensity
• Rainfall record is available from IMD as 15 minutes/ hourly/
daily rainfall data
Design storm/rainfall event
Design storm/rainfall event: Storm event used as basis for the
design of a storm water management system
• Found from the rainfall records for a specified Annual
Exceedance Probability (AEP) and/or return period
Return period: Average length of time between two rainfall
events of same duration and volume
• Return period is the inverse of the Annual Exceedance
Probability (10% AEP means 10 years return period)
• Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP): Probability of occurrence
of a storm event of a specific duration and volume in an year
• Return period considered depends on relative importance of
the facility being designed, cost of the facility, level of
protection desired and damage resulting from failure
• Typical return period for storm sewers design is 210 years
Design storm duration (time of concentration): Duration of the
storm resulting in the largest peak discharge for given return period
• In storm sewer design 0.1 hours is taken as the minimum time
of concentration (design storm duration)
Design storm/rainfall event
• Obtain rainfall events (observations) information for >5 years
• Rank the annual rainfalls from largest to smallest
• Estimate probability of occurrence by
• Plot ranked observations against probability on normal
probability paper and fit a curve (usually a straight line)
• Find return period in years by
100
25 . 0
375 . 0
×
+
÷
=
n
m
P
M is rank of the observation
n is total number of rainfall observations
The formula can be used for n = 10 to 100
P
T
100
=
T is return period
P probability of occurrence
Rainfall frequency spectrum (RFS)
Defined as the distribution of all rainfall events
• Rainfall volume from all the storm events ranging from the
smallest, most frequent events to the largest, most extreme
events over a long duration are presented
• Consists of classes of frequencies, often broken down by
return period ranges
– 4 principal classes
– The two smallest, or most frequent, classes are often referred to
as water quality storms  the control objectives of these storms
are groundwater recharge, pollutant load reduction, and to
control of channelerosion
– The two larger, or less frequent, classes are referred to as
quantity storms  the control objectives of these storms are
channel erosion control, overbank control, and flood control
• The runoff volume is the most important for the water quality
protection and design
• The runoff peak rate is the most important for drainage
system design and flooding analysis
Typical flood frequency curve
Design Storm Events
Small storms
• Storms with return period <6 months
• Considered for addressing the storm water quality
• Responsible for most annual urban runoff and for most pollutant
washoff from urban surfaces (eroded sediment is exception)
Medium storms
• Storms with a return frequency of 6 months to 2 years
• Determine the size and shape of the receiving streams
• Critical in the design of BMPs that protect stream channels from
accelerated erosion and degradation
Larger storms
• Storms with return frequency of 2 to 100 years (minor storms: 2 to
10 year storm; and major storms: >10 year storms)
• Traditionally used for the design of storm water conveyance
facilities (storm sewers and detention basins for peak discharge
control; and to prevent local overbank flooding)
Rainfall mass curve – dimensionless rainfall
mass curve  hyetograph
Rainfall mass curve: Plot of
cumulative rainfall of a
rainfall event against time
Hyetograph: time distribution
of rainfall intensity (in mm
or cm per hr. or inch per hr)
over time of a rainfall event
(represented by bar graph)
Rainfall event: A rainfall event
separated from the earlier
and subsequent rainfall
events by ≥6 hrs of no rain
Rainfall mass curve – dimensionless
rainfall mass curve  hyetograph
Rainfall events vary widely in both duration and time distribution
of intensity and no relationship exists between time
distribution of intensity and rainfall event duration
This makes prediction of time distribution of intensity of a rainfall
event impossible
The NRCS 24hour storm distributions (Type 1, 1A, II & III)
Developed based on the depthdurationfrequency relationships
for the rainfall events lasting from 30 min. to 24 hrs
Using 30 min. time increments, rainfall depths are arranged
The max. 30 min. depth is assumed to occur in the middle of 24
hour period
The next largest 30min. depth was placed after the max. depth
The third largest depth was placed prior to the maximum depth
This process was continued and each decreasing 30 min. depth
was placed at the beginning and end of the 24hour rainfall
Rainfall mass curve – dimensionless
rainfall mass curve  hyetograph
One approach that can be followed is use of dimensionless
rainfall mass curves
Severe storm events for a point rainfall monitoring station are
used
Storm event of one hour duration and 2 years return period
Storm event of >1.0 inch rainfall depth
For each storm express both cumulative rainfall depth and
elapsed time as percentages of the total
Taking 5 or 10% time increments and find 10%, 50% and 90%
values for each of the increments
Fit mean curve (50%) and 10% and 90% envelope curves
The resultant curves can be used for constructing synthetic
storms of any duration and any cumulative rainfall depth
Similarly hyetograph for the synthetic storm can be
constructed
Effective (Net) Rainfall
• Effective or net rainfall is the fraction of rainfall contributing
to direct runoff (Rainfall – Rainfall losses)
• Rainfall losses
• Interception (by vegetation: grass, plants and trees)
• Surface puddles, small and large depressions and ditches storage
• Infiltration (initially high, rapidly decreases and approaches a
steady rate)
• Evaporation
• Rainfall intensity, when exceeds infiltration rate, runoff occurs
• Part of the intercepted water can contribute to surface runoff in
the form of stem flow and through flow
• Ponds and channels with water show infiltration even after the
rain and water loss through evaporation also occurs
• Channels/streams receive part of the infiltrated water as
interflows and channels can also have base flows
• Rainfall is related with runoff by runoff coefficient
all Ra K Runoff inf . =
K is runoff coefficient
Effective (Net) Rainfall
• Effective rainfall depends on both site/catchment specific
variables and rainfall or storm specific variables
• Site specific (catchment) factors
– Soil type (texture, structure and degree of disturbance): Soil
water storage capacity and infiltration rates are affected
– Soil capping: crusting/scaling of top soil  occurring in arid and
semiarid regions  soils with high clay or loam are more prone
– Catchment slope: Steep slopes yield more runoff and increasing
slope lengths decrease the surface runoff
– Catchment size: runoff increases with decreasing size  larger
sizes show smaller runoff coefficients
– vegetation cover (type and density): Intercepts upto 4 mm rain
shields soil and avoids crusting/capping  roots and organic
matter increases porosity  retards and reduces surface runoff
– Antecedent soil moisture (at the onset of the storm)
– Geology of the watershed and groundwater levels
– Number and efficiency of water courses
• Storm specific variables (intensity and duration of the storm)
Run off coefficient (K)
• Not constant (even during a storm) and variable
(development alters its value)
• K derived for one geophysical location may not be fit for use in
other geophysical locations
• K of larger watersheds are not used in smaller watersheds
• Rainfall and runoff coefficient are related (Baringo curve)
– K is zero upto certain minimum threshold rainfall value
• Threshold rainfall depends on the physical characteristics of the
site, like, vegetation, depressions, disturbances, etc.
• Initial infiltration rates could be higher and affects the threshold
rainfall and the runoff coefficient
• Threshold rainfall can be 3 to >12 mm (for soils with high
infiltration capacity)
– K increases with increasing rainfall depth (linear relationship on
loglog plot of runoff factor and rainfall depth
• When drainage area involves a combination of coefficients a
weighted average of the runoff coefficients must be used
all Ra K Runoff inf . =
Baringo curve
Runoff coefficients
Effective (Net) Rainfall
Calculated by
• The ф index method
– Rainfall losses are considered constant
throughout the rainfall duration
• Rainfall losses are divided into
– initial losses (attributed to interception
and land surface storage)
– continuing losses (constant)
• Rainfall losses are considered proportional
to the rainfall intensity throughout the
rainfall period
• Estimating the net/effective rainfall by soil
moisture accounting models
– HECHMS user manual (HEC, 2009)
Proportional losses
Initial & continuing losses
ф index method
Rainfall  Runoff Models
• Rainfall data can be converted into runoff data through using
rainfallrunoff models
• Two approaches, continuous simulation approach and single
event design storm approach, are used
• Continuous simulation approach:
– chronological record of rainfall is used as input and the model
gives chronological record of runoff as output
– From the output maximum peak runoff and total runoff volume
for a selected design period are obtained
– SWMM (vs. 5), EPA and HECHMS are the models available
• Single event design storm approach
– Rainfall record is analyzed to obtain rainfallreturn period
relationship and design storm event is identified from the
relationship for a design return period
– The design storm event is used as input in the rainfallrunoff
model and design runoff (peak runoff and/or volume) is
obtained as output
– Rational method (NRCS WINTR55) is example – preferred for
small urban catchments
RainfallRunoff Models
• Effects of evapotranspiration, and interaction between
aquifer and streams, are ignored  effects of interception and
depression storage are also neglected
• Magnitude of evapotranspiration during the storm period is
negligible
• Response time of the subsurface soil system is much longer
than the response time of surface or direct runoff process
• Other methods of runoff estimations
• U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) regression equations
• Small storm hydrology methods (water quality treatment
volume – WQv and water quality capture volume calculations)
• Lowimpact development (LID) hydrologic methods
• Water balance calculations
US SCS method
• Soil Conservation Service Method (Curve Number –CN
Method) 1972 (for peak runoff rates and volumes)
• An empirical model  Good for small watersheds
• Takes into account the potential of soil to absorb/store water
or moisture (S)  interception, depression storage & infiltration
• Potential storage (S) is related to curve number
• Effective rainfall is estimated as
• I
a
is often expressed as fraction (f
a
) of the potential storage ‘s’
( )
( )
a t
a t
t
I S P
I P
Q
÷ +
÷
=
2
‘Q
t
’ is effective rainfall depth in time ‘t’
‘P
t
’ is accumulated depth of rainfall in time ‘t’
‘I
a
’ is initial abstraction before runoff (10% or 20% of ‘S’)
‘S’ is potential storage in the soil
254
25400
÷ =
CN
S
‘S’ is potential storage in the soil in mm
‘CN’ is Curve Number (range from 0 to 100)
S
I
f
a
a
=
Solution of the NRCS runoff equation
Runoff depth for selected CN’s and rainfall amounts1
Curve Number
• Assigned on the basis of
• Soil type (hydrologic soil groups A, B, C and D ; Runoff
potential increases from A to D groups)
• Land use can be crop type, woods, roads, etc.
• Hydrologic conditions  can be poor (heavily grazed or having
<50% plant cover), fair (moderately grazed or having 7550%
plant cover) or good (lightly grazed or with >75% plant cover).
• Antecedent moisture conditions (initial degree of saturation) 
can be dry soil (I), normal soil (II) and wet soil (III)
• Land slope and land treatment also influences the CN
• Often quoted as a function of the % impervious area
– CN
impervious
= 98
– CN
pervious
= CN for a pasture in good condition for various types of soils
• Varies between 0 and 100 (0 for low runoff potential and 100
for high runoff potential)
• Different subareas of a watershed can have different CN – in
such cases area weighted average of CN is used
Curve Number and Hydrologic Soil Groups
• 4 hydrologic soil groups (HSGA, HSGB, HSGC and HSGD) are identified
• HSGA
– Low run off potential and high infiltration rates
– Deep, well drained sandy/gravelly soil
– Water transmission rates: >0.3 inch/hr.
• HSGB
– Moderate infiltration/runoff rates
– Moderately deep and moderately draining soils
– Moderately fine to moderately coarse soil texture
– Water transmission rates: 0.15 to 0.3 inch/hr.
• HSGC
– Low infiltration rates and relatively high runoff rates
– Soils include layer impeding downward movement of water
– Moderately fine to fine soil texture
– Water transmission rates: 0.050.15 inch/hr.
• HSGD
– High runoff potential and very low infiltration rates
– Clay soils with high swelling potential, or soils with clay pan or clay layer at or
near the surface, or shallow soil over nearly impervious material
– Water transmission rates: 0.0 to 0.05 inch/hr
US SCS Method for Effective (Net) Rainfall
8
800
2
200
0 0 2
200
÷ +
+ ÷
=
= <
+ ÷
CN
P
CN
P
P otherwise
P
CN
P For
Excess
Excess
P is precipitation/rainfall
P
excess
is precipitation/rainfall excess
CN is curve number
Excess (Net) rainfall is obtained from precipitation
II CN
II CN
III CN
II CN
II CN
I CN
÷ ÷
÷
= ÷
÷ ÷
÷
= ÷
13 . 0 10
3 . 2
058 . 0 10
2 . 4
Antecedent Moisture/Runoff Conditions (AMC/ARC)
AMCI: dry soil with low curve Number Value
AMCII: normal soil with moderate Curve Number value
AMCIII: wet soil with high Curve Number value
Curve Number values are usually available for AMCII
conditions and corrected to AMCI or AMCII as required by
N
R
C
S
r
u
n
o
f
f
C
N
f
o
r
s
e
l
e
c
t
e
d
c
u
l
t
i
v
a
t
e
d
a
g
r
i
c
u
l
t
u
r
a
l
l
a
n
d
u
s
e
NRCS runoff CN for other agricultural land use1
N
R
C
S
r
u
n
o
f
f
c
u
r
v
e
n
u
m
b
e
r
s
(
C
N
)
f
o
r
s
e
l
e
c
t
e
d
u
r
b
a
n
l
a
n
d
u
s
e
Urbanization affects the CN
through soil compaction to
different levels and through
grading of soil involving
mixing of surface and sub
surface soils
Computing CN for developed urban areas
• CN values available for urban areas are usually for
– Fixed percent of impervious area (25%!) and the impervious
areas are assumed as directly connected to the drainage system
– Pervious urban areas are taken as equivalent to pastures in good
hydrologic condition
If the percent impervious area is different, then the curve number
should be corrected –nomographs are available for the
correction.
• An impervious area is considered as directly connected
– If its runoff flows directly into the drainage system or
– If it flows as concentrated shallow flow onto pervious areas and
then to the drainage system
If indirectly connected impervious areas exist, then also the CN
should be corrected – nomographs are available for the
correction
Composite CN with connected impervious areas
Composite CN with unconnected impervious areas
(total impervious area less than 30%)
Curve Number
• Curve Number is the function of
– Runoff coefficient (C)
– Total rainfall depth (P
t
)
– Intial abstraction ratio (f
a
=I
a
/S)
• The relationship can be shown as
• The NRCS runoff equation (CN method or US SCS runoff
equation) is combined with unit hydrograph theory for the
computation of peak flow rates and volumes
• The run off equation gives the runoff depth and for lower
rainfalls and/or smaller CN values the runoff depth is zero
( )
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦


.

\

÷
+ ÷
÷
+ +
=
2
1
2 2
1
1
4
1 1
2
1 1
10
1000
C
f
f
C
f
f
f
P
CN
a
a
a
a
a
t
Time of concentration (t
c
)
• Time required for the entire watershed to contribute to runoff
at the point of interest for hydraulic design
• time taken for the most hydraulically remote point of the
drainage area to contribute storm water to the outlet
• t
c
is a concept , not an object with physical properties
• Storm/ rainfall intensity decreases with increasing storm
duration (usually taken as time of concentration, t
c
)
• Urbanization decreases t
c
and increases peak discharge
• t
c
is used to select the rainfall intensity in rational method use
• t
c
of 10 to 300 minutes is acceptable for application in the
rational method  for t
c
<10 min. the estimated rainfall intensity
is unacceptably high, and for t
c
>300 the assumption of steady
rainfall is less valid
Time of concentration (t
c
)
• Factors affecting the t
c
– Ponding, surface roughness and catchment slope – for
ponds/lakes and reservoirs t
c
is taken as zero
– Fraction of impervious area and fraction of area directly
connected to flow
– Flow path length (length of the principal channel from outlet to
dividing line), channel slope, channel shape and flow pattern
• Methods of estimation of Tc
• Kinematic wave method
• Kirpich and Kerby methods and KerbyKirpich method
• NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) lag method
and NRCS travel time method
• Both NRCS and KerbyKirpich methods estimate t
c
as the sum of
travel times for discrete flow regimes.
• Stormwater is considered to move first as sheet flow, then as
shallow concentrated flow and finally as open channel flow
• t
c
is taken as sum of travel time of all the three types of flows
Estimation of time of concentration
Morgali and Lisely method
Used for planar small urban areas of drainage area <1020 acres
( )
3 . 0 4 . 0
6 . 0
. 94 . 0
S i
L n
t
c
=
i is intensity of rainfall (inch/hr)
n is Mannings surface roughness factor
L is length of flow (ft)
S is slope and tc is time of concentration
Time of concentration calculation involves iteration wherein
rainfall intensity is obtained from IDF curves
( )
e
c
d t
b
I
+
=
b, d and e are geographical site specific parameters
Values of these vary with the return interval in years
I is storm intensity and t
c
(min.) is time of concentration
For a given geographical location, storm intensity, duration and
frequency are related (shown by IDF curves which are used for
finding out intensity for a given duration rain)
Storm/ rainfall intensity decreases with increasing storm
duration (usually taken as time of concentration, t
c
)
Estimation of time of concentration
KerbyHatheway method
Used for small watersheds with overland flow predominance
N is Kerby roughness factor (0.020.8)
467 . 0
67 . 0
=
S
NL
t
c
( )
235 . 0
467 . 0
÷
= S LN K t
olf
K is units conversion coefficient (1.44 for SI units)
L is overland flow length in meters (<366)
N is dimensionless retardance coefficient
S is slope
The Kerby method for t
c
Useful for smaller watersheds with overland flow predominance
Estimation of time of concentration
Kirpich method (1940)
Used for <200 acres size basins with channel flow predomination
L is length of the main channel (ft)
h is relief along the main channel (ft)
385 . 0
3
0078 . 0


.

\

=
h
L
t
c
47 . 0
3
2

.

\

=
S
nL
t
c
t
c
is time of concentration (min.)
L is flow path length (ft.)
S is mean slope of the basin
n is Manning’s roughness coefficient
(taken as 0.02 for smooth surface & 0.8 for grass
overland)
Hatheway formula
Generalized terrain description
Dimensionless retardance
coefficient (N)
Pavement 0.02
Smooth, bare, packed soil 0.10
Poor grass, cultivated row crops, or
moderately rough packed surfaces
0.20
Pasture, average grass 0.40
Deciduous forest 0.60
Dense grass, coniferous forest, or
deciduous forest with deep litter
0.80
The Kerby method for t
c
Estimation of time of concentration (t
c
)
Kirpich method: Used for channel flow component
385 . 0 77 . 0 ÷
= S KL t
ch
K: units conversion coefficient (0.0195 for SI units)
t
ch
is in minutes
L is channel length in meters
S is slope
ch olf c
t t t + =
The KerbyKirpich method: Applicable to watersheds of 0.25
to 150 square mile area, main channel lengths of 1 to 50 miles
and main channel slopes of 0.002 to 0.02
Main channel slope: Change in elevation from watershed divide
to watershed outlet divided by the channels curvilenier length
Adhoc method for time of concentration
area drainage t
c
=
t
c
is in hours and
drainage area is in square miles
t
ch
is in minutes as per Kirpich method
t
olf
is in in minutes as per Kerby method
NRCS Travel time method for t
c
( )
4 . 0
5 . 0
2
8 . 0
/
007 . 0
sh
sh olf
olf sh
S P
L n
t =
t
sh/olf
for sheet/overland flow (Overton and Meadows, 1977)
‘n
olf
’ is NRCS roughness parameter
P
2
is 2year 24 hour rainfall depth (inches)
L
sh
is length sheet flow in feet (<300 ft
typically <100 ft))
S
sh
is sheet flow slope
ch sc olf sh c
t t t t + + =
/
1. Sheet flow (overland flow) – t
sh/olf
2. Shallow concentrated flow  t
sc
3. Channel flow travel time  t
ch
t
c
is considered to include 3 components
Manning’s roughness coefficient is influenced by a) Raindrop
impact, b) Drag over the plan surface, c) Obstacles (litter, vegetation,
crop ridges, rocks, etc.) within 3 cm and d) Erosion and
transportation of sediment
Assumptions made here include a) Shallow, steady, uniform flow;
b) 24 hr. rainfall and constant intensity of effective/net rainfall; c)
Minor effect of infiltration on travel time
Surface description n
ol
Smooth surfaces (concrete, asphalt, gravel, or bare soil) 0.011
Fallow (no residue) 0.05
Cultivated soils: Residue % 0.06
Residue cover > 20% 0.17
Grass: Short grass prairie 0.15
Dense grasses 0.24
Bermuda 0.41
Range (natural): 0.13
Woods: Light underbrush 0.40
Dense underbrush 0.80
Channel flow travel time (t
ch
): estimation is similar to t
sc
ch
ch
ch
ch ch ch
V
L
t
S R
n
V
×
=
=
60
49 . 1
2
1
3
2
R is hydraulic radius
V
ch
is in feet per sec.
L
ch
is length of the channel in feet
t
ch
is in minutes
t
sc
for shallow concentrated flow: Flow velocity (V
sc
) is
estimated by Mannings equation and used in the t
sc
estimation
sc
sc
sc
sc sc sc
V
L
t
S R
n
V
×
=
=
60
49 . 1
2
1
3
2
‘R’ and ‘n’ are taken as
0.4 feet and 0.05 for unpaved surfaces
0.2 feet and 0.025 for paved surfaces
V is in feet per sec.
L is shallow concentrated flow length in feet
t
sc
is in minutes
S
sc
is slope
NRCS Travel time method for t
c
Manning’s Roughness Coefficients for Open Channels
Type of channel Manning’s n
A. Natural streams
1. Minor streams (top width at flood stage < 100 ft)
a. Clean, straight, full, no rifts or deep
pools
0.0250.033
b. Same as a, but more stones and
weeds
0.0300.040
c. Clean, winding, some pools and
shoals
0.0330.045
d. Same as c, but some weeds and
stones
0.0350.050
e. Same as d, lower stages, more
ineffective
0.0400.055
f. Same as d, more stones 0.0450.060
g. Sluggish reaches, weedy, deep pools 0.0500.080
h. Very weedy, heavy stand of timber
and underbrush
0.0750.150
i. Mountain streams with gravel and
cobbles, few boulders on bottom
0.0300.050
j. Mountain streams with cobbles and
large boulders on bottom
0.0400.070
2. Floodplains
a. Pasture, no brush, short grass 0.0250.035
b. Pasture, no brush, high grass 0.0300.050
c. Cultivated areas, no crop 0.0200.040
d. Cultivated areas, mature row crops 0.0250.045
e. Cultivated areas, mature field crops 0.0300.050
f. Scattered brush, heavy weeds 0.0350.070
g. Light brush and trees in winter 0.0350.060
h. Light brush and trees in summer 0.0400.080
i. Medium to dense brush in winter 0.0450.110
j. Medium to dense brush in summer 0.0700.160
k. Trees, dense willows summer,
straight
0.1100.200
l. Trees, cleared land with tree stumps,
no sprouts
0.0300.050
m. Trees, cleared land with tree
stumps, with sprouts
0.0500.080
n. Trees, heavy stand of timber, few
down trees, flood stage below branches
0.0800.120
o. Trees, heavy stand of timber, few
down trees, flood stage reaching
branches
0.1000.160
3. Draglineexcavated or dredged
a. No vegetation 0.0250.033
b. Light brush on banks 0.0350.060
4. Rock cuts
a. Smooth and uniform 0.0250.040
b. Jagged and irregular 0.0350.050
5. Unmaintained channels
a. Dense weeds, high as flow depth 0.0500.120
b. Clean bottom, brush on sides 0.0400.080
c. Clean bottom, brush on sides,
highest stage
0.0450.110
d. Dense brush, high stage 0.0800.140
C. Lined channels
1. Asphalt 0.0130.016
2. Brick (in cement mortar) 0.0120.018
3. Concrete
a. Trowel finish 0.0110.015
b. Float finish 0.0130.016
c. Unfinished 0.0140.020
d. Gunite, regular 0.0160.023
e. Gunite, wavy 0.0180.025
4. Riprap (n depends on rock size) 0.0200.035
5. Vegetal lining 0.0300.500
3. Major streams (top width at flood stage > 100 ft)
a. Regular section with no boulders or
brush
0.0250.060
b. Irregular rough section 0.0350.100
B. Excavated or dredged channels
1. Earth, straight and uniform
a. Clean, recently completed 0.0160.020
b. Clean, after weathering 0.0180.025
c. Gravel, uniform section, clean 0.0220.030
d. With short grass, few weeds 0.0220.033
2. Earth, winding and sluggish
a. No vegetation 0.0230.030
b. Grass, some weeds 0.0250.033
c. Deep weeds or aquatic plants in
deep channels
0.0300.040
d. Earth bottom and rubble sides 0.0280.035
e. Stony bottom and weedy banks 0.0250.040
f. Cobble bottom and clean sides 0.0300.050
g. Winding, sluggish, stony bottom,
weedy banks
0.0250.040
h. Dense weeds as high as flow depth 0.0500.120
Manning’s Coefficients for Streets and Gutters
Type of gutter or pavement Man. n
Concrete gutter, troweled finish 0.012
Asphalt pavement: smooth texture 0.013
Asphalt pavement: rough texture 0.016
Concrete gutter with asphalt
pavement: smooth texture
0.013
Concrete gutter with asphalt
pavement: rough texture
0.015
Concrete pavement: float finish 0.014
Concrete pavement: broom finish 0.016
For gutters with small slope or where sediment
may accumulate, increase n values by 0.02
(USDOT, FHWA 2001).
Manning’s Roughness Coefficients for Closed Conduits
(ASCE 1982, FHWA 2001)
Corrugatedmetal pipe  (21/2 in. x 1/2 in.
corrugations)
Plain 0.0220.026
Paved invert 0.0180.022
Spun asphalt lined 0.0110.015
Plastic pipe (smooth) 0.0110.015
Corrugatedmetal pipe (22/3 in. by 1/2 in.
annular)
0.0220.027
Corrugatedmetal pipe (22/3 in. by 1/2 in.
helical)
0.0110.023
Corrugatedmetal pipe (6 in. by 1 in. helical) 0.0220.025
Corrugatedmetal pipe (5 in. by 1 in. helical) 0.025–0.026
Corrugatedmetal pipe (3 in. by 1 in. helical) 0.027–0.028
Corrugatedmetal pipe (6 in. by 2 in. structural
plate)
0.033–0.035
Corrugatedmetal pipe (9 in. by 21/2 in.
structural plate)
0.033–0.037
Corrugated polyethylene 0.010–0.013
Smooth 0.0090.015
Corrugated 0.018–0.025
Spiral rib metal pipe (smooth) 0.0120.013
Vitrified clay Pipes 0.0110.015
Vitrified clay Liner plates 0.0130.017
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (smooth) 0.0090.011
note: Manning n for corrugated pipes is function of corrugation
size, pipe size, and whether corrugations are annular or helical
Material Manning’s n
Asbestoscement pipe 0.0110.015
Brick 0.0130.017
Cast iron pipe
Cementlined & seal coated 0.0110.015
Concrete (monolithic)
Smooth forms 0.0120.014
Rough forms 0.0150.017
Concrete pipe 0.0110.015
Box (smooth) 0.0120.015
K Land Use / Flow Regime
0.25 Forest with heavy ground litter, hay meadow (overland flow)
0.5 Trash fallow or minimum tillage cultivation; contour or strip
cropped; woodland (overland flow)
0.7 Short grass pasture (overland flow)
0.9 Cultivated straight row (overland flow)
1.0 Nearly bare and untilled (overland flow); alluvial fans in
western mountain regions
1.5 Grassed waterway
2.0 Paved area (sheet flow); small upland gullies
Coefficients of velocity (fps) versus slope (%) relationship
(McCuen 1989; SCS 1972)
Use of Manning equation for flow velocity needs channel
parameters which are usually not available
Analternative for such situations is V= K S
1/2
K is a coefficient based on flow type and its values for several
flow situations are given by McCuen (1989) and SCS (1972)
Flow Type K
Small Tributary  Permanent or intermittent streams which appear
as solid or dashed blue lines on USGS topographic maps.
2.1
Waterway  Any overland flow route which is a well defined swale
by elevation contours, but is not a stream section as defined above.
1.2
Sheet Flow  Any other overland flow path which does not
conform to the definition of a waterway.
0.48
Coefficients of velocity (fps) versus slope (%) relationship
(Sorrell and Hamilton 1991)
NRCS lag method for T
c
Tc is estimated by the following equation
Lag time (t
l
): Time between the center of mass of the rainfall
event (hyetograph) and that of direct runoff (hydrograph)
‘t
l
‘ is weighted time of concentration for each segment of the
drainage area
Depends on area, length and slope like physical properties of the
watershed
Rural and suburban areas have the potential to retain rainfall on
the drainage area and this potential increases with the increase
of the time of travel
( )
10
1000
1900
1
6 . 0
5 . 0
7 . 0
8 . 0
÷

.

\

=
+
=
=
CN
S
Y
S L
T
T
T
l
l
c
T
l
is the basin/watershed lag time is hours
L is hydraulic length of the watershed (feet)
CN is NRCS curve number
Y is average watershed slope (%)
NRCS lag method for T
c
Hydraulic Length of the Watershed (L):
• Length from the point of design along the main channel to the ridge
line at the upper end of the watershed
• When the main channel is formed from the combining of two
channels, the drain that has greater tributary drainage area is taken
as the main drain
Average Watershed Slope (Y):
Methods for estimating the average watershed slope
• Divide the watershed into different slope areas and find there area
fractions
– Select representative location for each of the slope areas and find
slope in percent
– Multiply slope with the fractional area for each of the slope areas and
sum the resultant to obtain weighted average watershed slope
• Divide the watershed into square grids and at the intersections of
the grids measure the slope perpendicular to the contours
– Take mean slope of all the intersections as the weighted average
watershed slope
NRCS lag method for T
c
Curve number method for find basin/watershed lag time (hrs)
• Nomographs relating hydraulic length of the watershed (L) with the
watershed/basin lag time (t
l
) through NRCS curve number and
weighted average watershed slope can be used
• Draw a vertical from the hydraulic length of the watershed to the
weighted average watershed slope curve
– Draw horizontal from the point of intersection to the NRCS Curve
Number
– Draw vertical from the point of intersection on the NRCS curve to the
watershed lag time axis for reading the watershed/basin lag time
• Basin lag requires correction by a factor obtained from a
nomograph if the main channel is improved
– The correction factor is read for the % length of the channel modified
through NRCS Curve Number line
– Basin lag decreases with the channel modification
• Basin lag requires correction by a factor obtained from a
nomograph if impervious areas occur in the watershed
– The correction factor is read for the % impervious area of the
watershed through the NRCS Curve Number line
– Basin lag decreases with the impervious areas in the watershed
Rational method for peak runoff rate
A I C Q
A I C Q
Z
A I C
Q
278 . 0 =
=
=
Q is peak discharge from the basin (m
3
/sec.)
C is coefficient of run off
I is intensity of rainfall for a storm of given frequency and
duration equal to t
c
(mm/hour)
A is area of the basin (km
2
)
Z is conversion factor with value 1 for A in acres, I in inches/hr.
and Q in cubic feet per second
Peak discharge from the drainage basin or catchment is
estimated by
Rainfall intensity (I):
Intensity of rainfall is obtained from the long term rainfall
data analysis
The intensity corresponding to the time of concentration for
a given return period is considered
Modified rational method uses volume or depth of rainfall
in place of intensity of rainfall
Good for small frequent storms
Found from the following inputs
• Annual excedence probability (AEP) or return period
• Time of concentration for the drainage basin in question
• Depth – Duration – Frequency (DDF) curves/tables or
Intensity – Duration – Frequency (IDF) curves/tables
For intensity, depth of rainfall is divided by time of
concentration
IDF curves
Analysis of mass curve of a rainfall and development of
maximum intensityduration relationship
• Select a convenient time step (Δt) and divide the storm into
N time steps (D=N. Δt)
• From the mass curve for each of the time step record depth
of rainfall and intensity of rainfall
• Identify the maximum rainfall depth/intensity
• Repeat the exercise for different time steps (say for 5 min,
10 min, 15 min, 30 min, 45 min, 60 min, and so on) and
identify the maximum rainfall depth/intensity
• Plot a graph between maxium rainfall depth/intensity and
time steps (duration of rainfall) to obtain MDD/MID curve
• Fit the intensityduration data by any of the following two
expressions and find ‘a, b and c’ or ‘a and n’ parameters
( )
n
m
b
m
t
a
I or
a t
c
I =
+
=
IDF curves
Analysis of mass curve of a rainfall and development of
maximum intensitydurationfrequency relationship
Rainfall data from a selfrecording raingauge available for a long
period is used
For each of the N years M number of significant and heavy rainfall
events are selected for analysis
The rainfall events of each of the year are analyzed to obtain
maximum intensityduration relationship
This is repeated for all the N years to obtain time series of
intensityduration relationships
Using the results find return period (use Weibull formula!)
Plot maximum intensity vs return period with duration as the 3
rd
parameter or plot maximum intensity vs duration with return
period as the 3
rd
parameter to obtain IDF curves
Alternatively express the intensitydurationfrequency
relationship by the following equation
( )
n
x
a D
KT
I
+
=
K, x, a and n are the coefficients specific to the area
T is return period (years), D is duration (hours)
I is intensity maximum intensity (m/hr)
year
Duration
1 2 ... i ... M
1
2
...
J
...
N
P
R
C =
R is total depth of runoff
P is total depth of precipitation
Runoff coefficient ‘C’
Typical runoff coefficients for urban watersheds are available
from published literature
In case of the rural and mixed use watersheds the overall runoff
coefficient is obtained by
Identify the four aspects, watershed relief, soil infiltration,
vegetation cover and surface types, and their importance
Systematic assignment of runoff coefficient for each of the
aspects (Data is available for assisting the assignment)
Obtain overall runoff coefficient by
s v i r
C C C C C + + + =
C is overall runoff coefficient
C
r
is the coefficient accounting the relief
C
i
is the coefficient accounting for soil infiltration
C
v
is the coefficient accounting for vegetation
C
s
is the coefficent accounting for surface types
Type of drainage area Runoff
coefficient
Business:
Downtown areas 0.700.95
Neighborhood areas 0.300.70
Residential:
Singlefamily areas 0.300.50
Multiunits, detached 0.400.60
Multiunits, attached 0.600.75
Suburban 0.350.40
Apartment dwelling areas 0.300.70
Industrial:
Light areas 0.300.80
Heavy areas 0.600.90
Parks, cemeteries 0.100.25
Playgrounds 0.300.40
Railroad yards 0.300.40
Unimproved areas:
Sand or sandy loam soil, 03% 0.150.20
Sand or sandy loam soil, 35% 0.200.25
Black or loessial soil, 03% 0.180.25
Black or loessial soil, 35% 0.250.30
Black or loessial soil, > 5% 0.700.80
Deep sand area 0.050.15
Steep grassed slopes 0.70
Lawns:
Sandy soil, flat 2% 0.050.10
Sandy soil, average 27% 0.100.15
Sandy soil, steep 7% 0.150.20
Heavy soil, flat 2% 0.130.17
Heavy soil, average 27% 0.180.22
Heavy soil, steep 7% 0.250.35
Streets:
Asphaltic 0.850.95
Concrete 0.900.95
Brick 0.700.85
Drives and walks 0.750.95
Roofs 0.750.95
Runoff coefficients for
urban watersheds
Steps in developing and applying
the rational method
Use of rational method:
Assumptions and limitations
• The method is applicable if t
c
for the drainage area is less than the
duration of peak rainfall intensity
• The calculated runoff is directly proportional to the rainfall intensity
• Rainfall intensity is uniform throughout the duration of the storm
• Rainfall is distributed uniformly over the drainage area
• The frequency of occurrence for the peak discharge is the same as the
frequency of the rainfall producing that event
• The minimum duration to be used for computation of rainfall intensity is
10 minutes (If tc is <10 min., then 10 minutes is adopted for rainfall
intensity computations)
• The rational method does not account for storage in the drainage area.
Available storage is assumed to be filled
Due to the above assumptions and limitations use of the rational method is
limited to watersheds of <200 acres size
The rational method represents a steady inflowoutflow condition of the
watershed during the peak intensity of the design storm
Any storage features (detention ponds, channels and floodplain storage)
having significant volume cannot be properly represented with the
rational method
NRCS TR55 Method
• Just as the rational method the NRCS hydrologic
method also requires drainage basin area, runoff
factor, time of concentration and rainfall inputs
• It takes into consideration the following
– time distribution of rainfall
– Initial rainfall losses to interception and depression storage
– Infiltration rate decreasing during the course of the storm
• it is used to estimate storm water runoff peak rates
and to generate hydrographs for the routing of storm
water flows
• The method can be for drainage areas upto 2000 acres
size
NRCS TR55 Method
• Application of the NRCS method involves
– Determining curve numbers
– Finding time of concentration
– Determination of total and excess rainfall amounts
– Development direct runoff hydrographs through using unit
hydrograph approach
• Divide the larger drainage basins into finite number of sub
areas develop hydrographs (elemental hydrographs) for each
of them, route the flows to the basin outlet, and obtain the
hydrograph through summing the elemental hydrographs
– Introduce modifications for effects of transit time through the
basin and for the storage in the stream channels
Hydrograph
• Graph showing storm water flows against time for a stream
(at the outlet of a watershed)
• Stream carries excess (net) rainfall (storm water minus losses)
and includes
– Overland surface runoff – difference of rainfall and different
losses (interception, infiltration and surface storages)
– Interflow (subsurface runoff) – difference of subsoil infiltration
and top soil infiltration
– Base flow (groundwater flow) –groundwater recharging rises
groundwater table and enhances the base flow
• Overland surface runoff plus interflow together is known as
direct runoff  Effective (net) rainfall contributes to this
• A stream hydrograph is very complex and has many kinks and
peaks – individual rainfall events are expressed as peaks –
each of the peaks is a storm hydrograph
• Theoretically it is possible to resolve a complex hydrograph into
many simple hydrographs
Rainfall and runoff hydrograph
Storm hydrograph
• Hydrograph is the response of the catchment to the rainfall
event or storm
– During rainfall storage builds up in the watershed and on
cessation of rainfall the storage gradually depletes
– The excess/net rainfall reaches the outlet with a time lag
• Storm hydrographs are watershed and rainfall event specific –
vary with watershed characteristics and rainfall characteristics
– Shape, size, slope, drainage density  Occurrence of peak and
shape of hydrograph are affected mainly by catchment shape –
for smaller catchments (where over land flow is predominant)
catchment slope is important
– Soil type, geological conditions, land use and land cover
(important for small storms)
– Lakes, swamps and other surface water storages
– Channel characteristics (cross section, roughness, storage
capacity) – for larger catchments (where channel flow is
predominant) the principal channel slope is important
– intensity, duration and direction of movement of storm
Storm hydrograph
• Flow rate – time (time base) relationship
• Has three regions (rising limb, crest and recession limb)
• Rising limb (concentration curve)
– Controlled by both rainfall event and catchment characteristics
– Rises initially slowly due to high initial losses and then rapidly
due to increasing contributing area and reducing losses
– Built up of storage (surface and channel storage, interflow and
groundwater storage) occurs
• Crest segment
– Points of inflection separates the rising limb and the recession
limb from the crest segment
– includes the peak flow point, which occurs when all the parts of
the catchment simultaneously contribute runoff
– Larger catchments (storm duration < time of concentration!)
have peak flow after cessation of rainfall (basin lag or time lag!)
– Isolated storm of uniform rainfall results in a single peaked
storm hydrograph  two or more storms in succession result in
multiple peaked complex storm hydrographs
Storm hydrograph
• Recession/falling limb
– Represents depletion of storage – point of inflection represents
the condition of maximum storage
– Shape (specially beyond the inflection point) is entirely
influenced by the catchment characteristics
• Discharge during recession limb is given by Barnes equation
• The recession constant actually includes
– Recession constant for surface storage (K
rs
) – 0.05 to 0.2
– Recession constant for interflow (K
ri
) – 0.5 to 0.85
– Recession constant for base flow (K
rb
) – 0.85 to 0.99
( )
r
t t a at
t
t t
r
t
r t
K a where
e
Q
Q
e Q Q
K
Q
Q
K Q Q
ln
2 1
2 1
2
1
0
2
1
0
÷ =
= =
= =
÷ ÷ ÷
÷
‘Q0 is discharge at t=0
‘Qt’ is discharge at time ‘t’
‘Kr’ is recession constant
K
r
= K
rs
x K
ri
x K
rb
If any of the three flows are insignificant then
recession constant of that flow is taken as unity
Storm hydrograph
• Stormwater storage (S
t
) remaining in the basin at time ‘t’ is given by
• Beyond the inflection point plotting discharge against time on semi
log plot (discharge on log scale and time on arithmetic scale) gives
recession constant as slope of the plot
• For the recession limb, beyond the point representing end of the
direct runoff, both surface storage and interflow storage are
considered negligible and Krs and Kri are equal to one and Kr = Krb
• With the Krb value, base flow for different ‘t’ values beyond the
inflection point on the recession limb can be found
• Total discharge minus base flow can be taken as the surface runoff
provided interflow storage is considered negligible
• Plotting the surface runoff against time on semi log plot gives the
surface flow recession constant (Krs)
at t
r t
t t
at
t t
e Q K Q Q here
t
a
Q
dt e Q dt Q S
÷
· ·
÷
= =
= = =
í í
0 0
0
Direct Runoff Hydrograph (DRH)
• A hydrograph contains surface runoff, interflow and base flow
components – surface runoff and interflow put together is
direct runoff (effective rainfall is related with this)
• A hydrograph showing only direct runoff is direct runoff
hydrograph – separation of base flow from a storm
hydrograph results in DRH
• On the time base of a hydrograph locating the point where
direct runoff ends is difficult –
– can empirically be approximated by
• DRH is related to excessive/effective rainfall hyetograph (ERH)
– Rainfall that becomes direct runoff at the watershed outlet is
known as excessive/effective/net rainfall
– Both DRH and ERH represent the same total rainfall quantity but
in different units (ERH x Area = DRH !)
2 . 0
83 . 0 A N =
‘N’ is time interval between peak flow point and
end of direct runoff point
‘A’ is basin area in km2
Runoff from a rainfall event includes two components direct runoff (surface
flow and interflow) and base flow (groundwater flow)
Direct run off can be separated from the total runoff from a rain fall event
Lag time (t
l
): Time between the center of mass of the rainfall event
(hyetograph) and that of direct runoff (hydrograph)
Equation by Linsley (1992)
2 . 0
8 . 0 A N =
A is watershed area in km
2
Straight line AC divides the flow into direct
runoff and base flow
Time lag
Base flow separation and DRH
• Constantdischarge method: assume base flow as constant 
project from the minimum base flow immediately before the
beginning of storm hydrograph.
• Constantslope: Connect the point representing the end of
direct runoff on recession limb with the beginning of storm
hydrograph to separate the base flow.
• Concave (most realistic): Assume decrease of base flow
decreases with the increase of stream flow up to the peak of
the storm – from there connect to the point representing the
end of direct runoff on recession limb for separating the base
flow.
• Master depletion curve method: draw a tangent to the
recession limb beyond the point representing  from there
connect with the beginning of the storm hydrograph for
separating the base flow.
Unit Hydrograph (UH)
• Unit hydrograph: The catchment flow response to a unit (1
cm) of effective rainfall occurring over a given duration (D hrs)
• Duration is indicated as prefix to UH (6hUH)
• Volume of water is equal to the rainfall excess and average
intensity of excess rainfall is (1/D)
• Prediction of flood hydrographs are done by unit hydrograph
method (suggested by Sherman in 1932
• Assumptions made in the unit hydrograph construction
– Effective rainfall is uniformly distributed over the whole
catchment and the duration.
– Direct runoff process is linear in superposition and
proportionality  if rainfall is doubled runoff also doubled  any
runoff from a later time can be added to the previous runoff.
– The rainfall runoff process is stationary  no change with time.
¯
s
=
+ ÷
=
m n
m
m i m i
U R Q
1
1
R
m
is effective rainfall
U
i
is unit hydrograph ordinates
Q
i
is direct runoff hydrograph ordinates
m is the number of rainfall values
Unit Hydrograph
• DRH (Direct Runoff Hydrograph) can be obtained from the D
UH (D duration unit hydrograph) by superpositioning
• If rainfall excess is R times the unit rainfall excess, then the
DRH resulting will be R times the DUH
– Area under the DRH will be r times the area under the DUH
– Time base of the hydrograph will remain the same
• Two consecutive rainfall events are combined by super
positioning (time gap between the events is taken care of)
– Time base of the resultant DRH will be equal to the DUH time
base plus time lag between the two rainfall events
• Constructing a DRH for a basin for a rainfall event one needs
– Unit hydrograph of appropriate duration
– Storm hyetograph – excess rainfall hyetograph (ERH) is obtained
from it through deducting initial losses and infiltration losses
– ERH is divided into finite number of blocks each of D duration
– Through superpositioning DRH is obtained
– Addition of base flow to the DRH can give flood/storm
hydrograph
Unit Hydrograph
A river catchment has a 2 hour unit hydrograph with the ordinates 0, 3, 11, 35, 55, 66, 63, 40,
22, 9 and 2 m
3
/s. Assume that the base flow at time t=0 hour is 20 m3/s and linearly
increases to 44 m
3
/s at t=24 hours.
a) Compute the hydrograph resulting from two successive 2 hour periods of effective rain of
2.0cm and 1.5 cm respectively.
b) To prevent downstream flooding, the maximum flow to be released from the catchment is
set at 180 m
3
/s. Calculate the space needed to store the excess water from this event (in m
3
).
Derivation of a Unit Hydrograph
• Select sufficient number of isolated storm hydrographs for the
basin caused by storms of about same duration (±20% D)
– The storms selected should be fairly uniform in both space and
time (over the duration across the catchment/basin)
– Duration chosen should be 1/3
rd
to 1/5
th
of the basin lag (for
catchments >250 km
2
duration is taken as 6 hours)
• Obtain Direct Runoff Hydrographs (DRH) for each of the
selected storm hydrographs (separate base flow)
• Evaluate area under each of the DRH and divide with basin
area to obtain excess rainfall depth
– The selected storm should yield 1 to 4 cm excess rainfall depth
• Divide ordinates of the DRH with the excess rainfall depth for
obtaining ordinates for the Unit Hydrograph (UH)
• The multiple Unit Hydrographs obtained will not be identical –
combine them to obtain an average/mean Unit Hydrograph
– Excess rainfall depth evaluated for the mean Unit Hydrograph
should be a unity
Constructing Flood Hydrograph
from Unit Hydrograph
• Unit Hydrograph for the basin and Excess Rainfall Hyetograph
(ERH) of the storm are needed
• The Excess Rainfall Hyetograph is divided into ‘n’ blocks with
the duration of the UH
• For each block find excess rainfall depth
• Segment the time base of the Unit Hydrograph by the
duration of the Unit Hydrograph
• Construct DRH for the block by multiplying the ordinates of
the Unit Hydrograph with the block’s excess rainfall depth
• Superposition DRHs of subsequent blocks of excess rainfall to
obtain DRH for the flood storm in question
1 3 2 2 3 1 3
1 2 2 1 2
1 1 1
U R U R U R Q
U R U R Q
U R Q
+ + =
+ =
=
R1, R2 and R3 are excess rainfall depths for
blocks 1, 2 and 3
U1, U2 and U3 are ordinates of the Unit
Hydrograph
Unit hydrographs of different durations
From a DUH of a watershed a TUH can be derived by two
methods: Superposition method and Scurve method
Superposition method (used when
T/D is an integer)
• Divide T into n blocks, each of D
duration
• Develop Direct Runoff Hydrograph
for ‘T’ rainfall duration by
superpositioning ‘n’ Unit
Hydrographs of D duration each
• Divide the ordinates of the DRH
by ‘n’ and obtain the Unit
Hydrograph of ‘T’ duration
• Used for the cases where T/D is not an integer
• Scurve is a cumulative flow curve developed from a unit
hydrograph of D duration
• Ordinates for this are obtained from UH as below:
• Scurve reaches the maximum value (Q
s
) at time equal to the
time base of the Unit Hydrograph
• Intensity of rainfall is 1/D and the cumulative/maximum value
is A/D where A is basin area and D is duration of UH
Unit hydrographs of different durations
(Scurve or Shydrograph method)
t D t t D t t t
n
i
i n
i i i
U Q Q or Q Q U
U Q
U U U U Q
U U Q U Q
+ = ÷ =
=
+ + + + =
+ = =
÷ ÷
=
÷
¯
1
1 2 1
1 2 2 1 1
...
Q
1
, Q
2
, ..., Q
i
, ..., Q
n
are ordinates of Scurve
U
1
, U
2
, ..., U
i
, ..., U
n
are ordinates of the UH
For deriving Thour Unit Hydrograph (UH) from Dhour UH consider 2 D
hour Scurves displaced/lagged by Thours on the time axis
Obtain ordinates of the Unit Hydrograph as vertical distance between the
two Scurves multiplied by D/T
Check whether the area under the UH is representing a unit of excess or
effective or net rainfall
Steps in developing and applying
the hydrograph method
Synthetic Unit Hydrograph
• Information on rainfall and resulting Flood Hydrograph is not
available for many watersheds and Unit Hydrographs can not be
derived – in such cases Synthetic Unit Hydrographs are used
• Synthetic unit hydrographs (SUH) are developed by using empirical
equations relating the salient hydrograph characteristics with the
basin characteristics
• These empirical equations (having only regional validity) are used to
find the characteristics of the SUH
– Peak discharge (Q
p
)
– Standard rainfall duration (t
r
)
– Lag time (t
p
)
– Unit hydrograph width at 75% of Q
p
(W
75
)
– Unit hydrograph width at 50% of Q
p
(W
50
)
– Time base of the unit hydrograph (T
b
)
• Using these characteristics a tentative SUH is sketched – from it S
curve is constructed and smoothened to remove kinks – SUH is
then derived from the Scurve – check whether the area under the
SUH represents a unit excess rainfall
– Since T
b
is the least accurate parameter, adjust it to obtain the SUH
(Basin) Lag time (t
p
):
• Time interval between the midpoint of excess rainfall and
peak of the SUH
• Represents mean time of travel of water from all parts of the
watershed to the watershed outlet
• Snyder’s empirical equation (and Linsley et al modification)
Synthetic Unit Hydrograph
( )
n
ca
tL p
ca t p
S
L L
C t
L L C t

.

\

=
=
.
.
3 . 0
t
p
is basin lag in hours
L is basin length in km along principal flow path
L
ca
is principal channel length from outlet to the
point opposite to watershed centroid in km
S is basin slope
C
t
is constant representing the watersheds slope and storage effects
its range is 1.331.65 and reported range is 0.3 to 6.0
C
tL
and n are basin constants ‘n’ is taken as 0.38 for basins in USA
C
tL
value is 1.715 for mountainus region, 1.03 for foot hill region and
0.5 for valley region
Synthetic Unit Hydrograph
Standard excess rainfall duration in hours (t
r
) –similar to D
5 . 5
p
r
t
D t = =
One can take a nonstandard excess rainfall duration (tR),
but for this the basin lag needs correction (t
p
’)
4 22
21
4
'
R
p
r R
p p
t
t
t t
t t + =
÷
+ = Here t
r
is taken as t
p
/5.5
Time base of the SUH (T
b
)
hours
t
t T days
t
T
r
p b
p
b

.

\

+ = + =
2
. 5
8
3
1
st
equation overestimates T
b
for small basins and 2
nd
(Taylor and
Schwartz) equation is suggested
T
b
is taken as an integer divisible by t
r
Synthetic Unit Hydrograph
A
q
q Here
q
W
p
= =
08 . 1
50
87 . 5
75 . 1
50
75
W
W =
Unit hydrograph width at 75% of q
p
(W
75
)
Unit hydrograph width at 50% of q
p
(W
50
)
Here W
50
and W
75
are in hours
Peak discharge (q
p
) in m
3
/sec.
p
p
p
t
A C
q
78 . 2
=
A is catchment area in km
2
C
p
is a regional constant and represents
retention and storage capacity of watershed
its value range: 0.310.93
SCS Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph
• Developed by Victor Mockus
• Derived based on a large number of Unit Hydrographs for
basins of varied characteristics
– After averaging out the Unit Hydrographs, the resultant Unit
Hydrograph is made dimensionless by taking Q/Q
p
and t/t
p
• A curvilinear Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph can be
represented by an equivalent Triangular Unit Hydrograph
• The Unit Hydrograph has 37.5% of its area on the rising side
and rest 62.5% on recession side (area under the curve is ‘1’)
• Considering Triangular Unit Hydrograph, peak rate (q
p
) will be
( )
r p
p
T T
q
+ =
2
1
q
p
is peak rate
T
p
is time of rise and T
r
is time of recession
T
r
/T
p
is taken as recession to rising limb ratio
T
p
+T
r
=T
b
(T
b
is time base of Triangular UH)
Time
Ratios (t/t
p
)
Discharge
Ratios (q/q
p
)
Mass Curve
Ratios (Q
a
/Q)
0 0.00 0.000
0.1 0.03 0.001
0.2 0.10 0.006
0.3 0.19 0.012
0.4 0.31 0.035
0.5 0.47 0.065
0.6 0.66 0.107
0.7 0.82 0.163
0.8 0.93 0.228
0.9 0.99 0.300
1.0 1.00 0.375
1.1 0.99 0.450
1.2 0.93 0.522
1.3 0.86 0.589
1.4 0.78 0.650
1.5 0.68 0.700
Ratios for dimensionless unit
hydrograph and mass curve
Time
Ratios (t/t
p
)
Discharge
Ratios (q/q
p
)
Mass Curve
Ratios (Q
a
/Q)
1.6 0.560 0.751
1.7 0.460 0.790
1.8 0.390 0.822
1.9 0.330 0.849
2.0 0.280 0.871
2.2 0.207 0.908
2.4 0.147 0.934
2.6 0.107 0.953
2.8 0.077 0.967
3.0 0.055 0.977
3.2 0.040 0.984
3.4 0.029 0.989
3.6 0.021 0.993
3.8 0.015 0.995
4.0 0.011 0.997
4.5 0.005 0.999
5.0 0.000 1.000
SCS Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph
c c p
c lag c lag p
T D How T D T
T T here T
D
T
D
T
133 . 0 ?) ( 7 . 1
6 . 0 6 . 0
2 2
= + =
= + = + =
Knowing lag time, T
lag
(or time of concentration, T
c
) and recession
to rising limb ratio one can use the SCS Dimensionless UH
If excess rainfall depth is Q and area of the drainage basin is A
r p
f
p
T T
Q A p
q
+
=
. . 2 .
p
f
(peaking factor) is unit conversion factor
T
p
/T
r
is recession to rising limb ratio
q is flow rate at time T
When Q is in inches, T in hours, A in square miles and q
p
in
ft
3
/sec. then P
f
values will be as given in the table
T
r
/T
p
and p
f
are related (increasing T
r
/T
p
decreases p
f
)
Since q/q
p
and T/T
p
are known one can develop q versus T
relationship and construct the Direct Runoff Hydrograph
General Description Peaking
Factor (P
f
)
Limb Ratio (T
r
/T
p
)
(Recession to Rising)
Urban areas; steep slopes 575 1.25
Typical SCS 484 1.67
Mixed urban/rural 400 2.25
Rural, rolling hills 300 3.33
Rural, slight slopes 200 5.5
Rural, very flat 100 12.0
Hydrograph peaking factors and recession limb ratios
(Wanielista, et al. 1997)
Delineate the basin and define boundary
For each cell on the boundary find lag time,
and find length to the outlet
Find the longest time or length to the outlet,
and find time of concentration for the basin
Find peak flow (qp) and time to peak (Tp)
Select storm duration
Find recession to rising limb ratio and
calculate recession limb length
Construct dimensionless triangular unit hydrograph
Multiply the dimensionless ordinates by q
p
and
T
p
for obtaining the unit hydrograph