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Comparison of estimated and observed stormwater runoff for fifteen watersheds in west-central Florida, using five common design techniques

Open-File Report 96-129

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Abstract

Hydrologists use several traditional techniques for estimating peak discharges and runoff volumes from ungaged watersheds. However, applying these techniques to watersheds in west-central Florida requires that empirical relationships be extrapolated beyond tested ranges. As a result there is some uncertainty as to their accuracy. Sixty-six storms in 15 west-central Florida watersheds were modeled using (1) the rational method, (2) the U.S. Geological Survey regional regression equations, (3) the Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) TR-20 model, (4) the Army Corps of Engineers HEC-1 model, and (5) the Environmental Protection Agency SWMM model. The watersheds ranged between fully developed urban and undeveloped natural watersheds. Peak discharges and runoff volumes were estimated using standard or recommended methods for determining input parameters. All model runs were uncalibrated and the selection of input parameters was not influenced by observed data. The rational method, only used to calculate peak discharges, overestimated 45 storms, underestimated 20 storms and estimated the same discharge for 1 storm. The mean estimation error for all storms indicates the method overestimates the peak discharges. Estimation errors were generally smaller in the urban watersheds and larger in the natural watersheds. The U.S. Geological Survey regression equations provide peak discharges for storms of specific recurrence intervals. Therefore, direct comparison with observed data was limited to sixteen observed storms that had precipitation equivalent to specific recurrence intervals. The mean estimation error for all storms indicates the method overestimates both peak discharges and runoff volumes. Estimation errors were smallest for the larger natural watersheds in Sarasota County, and largest for the small watersheds located in the eastern part of the study area. The Natural Resources Conservation Service TR-20 model, overestimated peak discharges for 45 storms and underestimated 21 storms, and overestimated runoff volumes for 44 storms and underestimated 22 storms. The mean estimation error for all storms modeled indicates that the model overestimates peak discharges and runoff volumes. The smaller estimation errors in both peak discharges and runoff volumes were for storms occurring in the urban watersheds, and the larger errors were for storms occurring in the natural watersheds. The HEC-1 model overestimated peak discharge rates for 55 storms and underestimated 11 storms. Runoff volumes were overestimated for 44 storms and underestimated for 22 storms using the Army Corps of Engineers HEC-1 model. The mean estimation error for all the storms modeled indicates that the model overestimates peak discharge rates and runoff volumes. Generally, the smaller estimation errors in peak discharges were for storms occurring in the urban watersheds, and the larger errors were for storms occurring in the natural watersheds. Estimation errors in runoff volumes; however, were smallest for the 3 natural watersheds located in the southernmost part of Sarasota County. The Environmental Protection Agency Storm Water Management model produced similar peak discharges and runoff volumes when using both the Green-Ampt and Horton infiltration methods. Estimated peak discharge and runoff volume data calculated with the Horton method was only slightly higher than those calculated with the Green-Ampt method. The mean estimation error for all the storms modeled indicates the model using the Green-Ampt infiltration method overestimates peak discharges and slightly underestimates runoff volumes. Using the Horton infiltration method, the model overestimates both peak discharges and runoff volumes. The smaller estimation errors in both peak discharges and runoff volumes were for storms occurring in the five natural watersheds in Sarasota County with the least amount of impervious cover and the lowest slopes. The largest er

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Comparison of estimated and observed stormwater runoff for fifteen watersheds in west-central Florida, using five common design techniques
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
96-129
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1996
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Open-file Reports Section [distributor],
Description:
viii, 120 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.