Hydrologic connectivity: Quantitative assessments of hydrologic-enforced drainage structures in an elevation model

Journal of Coastal Research
By:  and 



Elevation data derived from light detection and ranging present challenges for hydrologic modeling as the elevation surface includes bridge decks and elevated road features overlaying culvert drainage structures. In reality, water is carried through these structures; however, in the elevation surface these features impede modeled overland surface flow. Thus, a hydrologically-enforced elevation surface is needed for hydrodynamic modeling. In the Delaware River Basin, hydrologic-enforcement techniques were used to modify elevations to simulate how constructed drainage structures allow overland surface flow. By calculating residuals between unfilled and filled elevation surfaces, artificially pooled depressions that formed upstream of constructed drainage structure features were defined, and elevation values were adjusted by generating transects at the location of the drainage structures. An assessment of each hydrologically-enforced drainage structure was conducted using field-surveyed culvert and bridge coordinates obtained from numerous public agencies, but it was discovered the disparate drainage structure datasets were not comprehensive enough to assess all remotely located depressions in need of hydrologic-enforcement. Alternatively, orthoimagery was interpreted to define drainage structures near each depression, and these locations were used as reference points for a quantitative hydrologic-enforcement assessment. The orthoimagery-interpreted reference points resulted in a larger corresponding sample size than the assessment between hydrologic-enforced transects and field-surveyed data. This assessment demonstrates the viability of rules-based hydrologic-enforcement that is needed to achieve hydrologic connectivity, which is valuable for hydrodynamic models in sensitive coastal regions. Hydrologic-enforced elevation data are also essential for merging with topographic/bathymetric elevation data that extend over vulnerable urbanized areas and dynamic coastal regions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrologic connectivity: Quantitative assessments of hydrologic-enforced drainage structures in an elevation model
Series title Journal of Coastal Research
DOI 10.2112/SI76-009
Volume Special Issue 76
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Coastal Education and Research Foundation
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 17 p.
First page 90
Last page 106