Minimizing the Probable Maximum Flood

by Mark A. Woodbury, (M.ASCE), Harza Engineering Company, Chicago, IL,
Douglas T. Eberlein, (M.ASCE), Project Manager; Wisconsin Electric Power, Milwaukee, WI,
Nicholas Pansic, Sr. Assoc. (Head of Special projects); Harza Engineering Company, Chicago,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 6, Pg. 64-65


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: A newly-developed probable maximum precipitation (PMP) estimate for Wisconsin and Michigan reduced precipitation depths by 20%. Should a given area's probable maximum flood (PMF) model based, in part, on the PMP be refined as well? Officials at the Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Milwaukee, thought so. They hoped a refined PMF model would help staff determine an economical way to comply with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requirements at two hydroelectric developments on the Michigamme River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Current FERC guidelines require these projects to safely pass the PMF. Company officials contracted with Harza Engineering Company, Chicago, to re-estimate the PMF using state-of-the-art technology and the results of the new PMP study. Harza Engineers and hydrologists combined comprehensive data and analyses from updated soil surveys, aerial reconnaissance, satellite image analysis and digital map data in the study. Computer-aided design and geographic information systems were used to analyze basin parameters and generate modeling inputs. The more accurate analysis cut estimated peak flows by 40% and significantly reduced the costs of planned spillway upgrades.

Subject Headings: Computer aided design | Floods | Geographic information systems | Hydro power | Models

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