Model Mania in Urban Hydrology: Present Dilemmas

by David F. Kibler, Virginia Polytechnic Inst and State, Univ, Blacksburg, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Resources Planning and Management and Urban Water Resources


A recent ASCE Task Committee on microcomputer software in urban hydrology has just completed its inventory of 40 software packages available at modest cost to the urban drainage engineer. The TC was formed in response to the explosion in software development for the urban drainage field, seen here as a kind of model mania in which fundamental assumptions and basic hydraulic principles are either lost or at best poorly understood by the average software user. For example, the kinematic wave equations are firmly entrenched as the physical basis for urban subarea runoff modelling. Yet, there are numerous examples where the use of these equations by themselves does not guarantee a useful result. The success of the modelling effort depends on the numerical solution scheme, the rainfall excess determination, the friction relationship, and, in the case of long-term hourly simulation, the rainfall disaggregation procedure. This paper examines fundamental assumptions in the context of kinematic wave modelling of overland flows. This is done in an effort to circumscribe present difficulties and identify future directions in urban hydrology modelling.

Subject Headings: Urban areas | Computer software | Hydrology | Drainage | Mathematical models | Kinematic waves | Computer models

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