TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS...............................................................................................1
SECTION 5....................................................................................................................1
UNIT HYDROGRAPH METHOD................................................................................1
5.1 General................................................................................................................1
5.2 SCS Unit Hydrograph Method............................................................................1
5.2.1 SCS Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph...........................................................2
5.2.2 Peak Discharge of the Unit Hydrograph.......................................................2
Table 5.1: Ratio of Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph and Mass Curve ....4
....................................................................................................................................5
5.2.3 Convolution...................................................................................................5
5.3 TRRL East African Flood Model.......................................................................12
5.3.1 Form of Model.............................................................................................12
5.3.2 Initial Retention (Y)....................................................................................12
5.3.3 Contributing Area Coefficient (CA)............................................................13
Table 5.2: Standard Contributing Area Coefficient (wet zone catchment,
short grass cover)......................................................................................13
Table 5.3: Catchment Wetness Factor (Source: TRRL Laboratory Report
706)...........................................................................................................13
Table 5.4: Land Use Factor (Base assumes short grass cover)................14
5.3.4 Catchment lag Time (K)..............................................................................14
Table 5.5: Catchment Lag Time (Source: TRRL Laboratory Report 706)
..................................................................................................................14
5.3.5 Base Time ...................................................................................................14
Table 5.6: Rainfall Time (TP) for East African 10 year Storm ...............14
LIST OF TABLES
Table 5.1: Ratio of Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph and Mass Curve ........ 5. Error: Reference
source not found
Table 5.2: Standard Contributing Area Coefficient (wet zone catchment, short
grass cover) .................................................... 5. Error: Reference source not found
Table 5.3: Catchment Wetness Factor (Source: TRRL Laboratory Report 706) .......... 5. Error:
Reference source not found
Table 5.4: Land Use Factor (Base assumes short grass cover) 5. Error: Reference source not
found
Table 5.5: Catchment Lag Time (Source: TRRL Laboratory Report 706) Error: Reference
source not found
Table 5.6: Rainfall Time (TP) for East African 10 year Storm ... 5. Error: Reference source not
found
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
SECTION 5
UNIT HYDROGRAPH METHOD
5.1 General
A hydrograph is a graph of discharge rate, which passes a particular point, verses time.
It reflects both precipitation and watershed characteristics. The slope of the rising limb
is specially sensitive to rainfall characteristic while the shape of the recession limb is
more sensitive to characteristics of the watershed. The crest segment is sensitive to
both rainfall and watershed characteristic.
A unit hydrograph is a special case of flood hydrograph. Specifically a unit hydrograph
is the hydrograph that results from 1 millimeter of excess rainfall generated uniformly
over the watershed at a uniform rate during a specified period of time. While discussing
unit hydrographs, the following five points warrant emphasis.
1)The rainfall occurs from excess rainfall.
2)The volume of runoff is 1 millimeter.
3)The excess rainfall is applied at a uniform rate.
4)The excess is applied with uniform spatial distribution.
5)The intensity of rainfall excess is constant over a specified period of time, which is
termed as the duration of the rainfall.
5.2 SCS Unit Hydrograph Method
There are several types of unit hydrographs. The ones of interest herein are the
dimensionless and Dhour unit hydrograph in which case the duration of excess rainfall
is Dhours. A dimensionless unit hydrograph is a hydrograph the ordinates of which are
given as a ratio of the time to peak discharge (
p
q
) and the time axis of which is
measured as a ratio of the time to peak (
p
t
); that is, it is a graph of
p
q
q
versus
p
t
t
,
where
q
is the discharge at any time t .
Two steps are employed to calculate the hydrograph, the runoff Curve Number method
and the Tabular Hydrograph Method. The Runoff Curve Number method is used to
determine the runoff and the Tabular Hydrograph method is used to calculate the
composite hydrograph at the watershed outlet.
To calculate a hydrograph the simplified method known as TR55 methodology begins
with imposing a specific time distribution of rainfall uniformly in space over the
watershed.
The rainfall is converted to runoff with the Runoff Curve Number method. A unit
hydrograph is obtained based on subarea and event specific variables. The unit
hydrograph is then scaled by the rainfall to obtain the hydrograph using the Tabular
Hydrograph method.
5.1
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
5.2.1 SCS Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph
The SCS methods use dimensionless unit hydrographs that are based on an extensive
analysis of measured data. Unit hydrographs were evaluated for a large number of
actual watersheds and then made dimensionless. An average of these dimensionless
unit hydrographs was developed. The time base of unit hydrograph was approximately
five times the timetopeak and approximately 3/8 of the total volume accrued before
the timetopeak. The inflection point on the recession limb occurs at approximately 1.7
times the timetopeak and the unit hydrograph has a curvilinear shape. The average
dimensionless unit hydrograph is shown in Fig. 5.1 and the discharge ratios for
selected values of the time ratio are given in Table 5.1.
The curvilinear hydrograph can be approximated by a triangular unit hydrograph that
has more or less similar characteristics. Fig 5.2 shows the comparison of the two unit
hydrographs. While the time base of the triangular unit hydrograph is only 8/3 of the
timetopeak (compared to 5 for the curvilinear unit hydrograph, the area under the
rising limbs of the two unit hydrographs are the same (~37.5 per cent)
5.2.2 Peak Discharge of the Unit Hydrograph
The area under the unit hydrograph equals the volume of direct runoff
Q
, which was
estimated by Eqn 5.1.
) (
2
1
r p p
t t q Q + Eqn. 5.1
Where:
p
t
is timetopeak
r
t is the recession time
p
t
is the peak discharge.
Solving Eq 5.1 for
p
q
and rearranging yields:
1
1
1
1
]
1
p
r
p
p
t
t t
Q
q
1
2
Eqn. 5.2
Letting
K
replace the contents within the bracket yields:
p
p
t
KQ
q
Eqn. 5.3
Considering area to be measured in km
2
,
p
t
to be measured in hours, and the
discharge to be obtained in m
3
/s, the formula could be rearranged as:
p
p
t
AQ
q
208 . 0
Eqn. 5.4
5.2
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
For mountainous watershed, the constant may go as high as 0.258 and for flat swampy
areas it may come down as low as 0.129.
The timetopeak in the peak discharge equation may be expressed in terms of the
duration of unit precipitation excess and the time of concentration. Fig. 5.2 provides the
following relationships
D t t
c p
+ 7 . 1
Eqn. 5.5
c p
t
D
t 6 . 0
2
+
Eqn. 5.6
Solving for
D
(rainfall duration) yields
c
t D 133 . 0 Eqn. 5.7
From Figure 5.2 it can be found out that:
p p p r p b
t t t t t t
3
8
67 . 1 + +
5.3
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
Table 5.1: Ratio of Dimensionless Unit Hydrograph and Mass Curve
(Source: H.McLVEN, 1982)
Time Ratios
(
p
t
t
)
Discharge Ratios (
p
q
q
)
Mass Curve
Ratios (
Q
Q
a
)
0 .000 .000
.1 .030 .001
.2 .100 .006
.3 .190 .012
.4 .310 .035
.5 .470 .065
.6 .660 .107
.7 .820 .163
.8 .930 .228
.9 .990 .300
1.0 1.000 .375
1.1 .990 .450
1.2 .930 .522
1.3 .860 .589
1.4 .780 .650
1.5 .680 .700
1.6 .560 .751
1.7 .460 .790
1.8 .390 .822
1.9 .330 .849
2.0 .280 .871
2.2 .207 .908
2.4 .147 .934
2.6 .107 .953
2.8 .077 .961
3.0 .055 .977
3.2 .040 .984
3.4 .029 .989
3.6 .021 .993
3.8 .015 .995
4.0 .011 .997
4.5 .005 .999
5.0 .000 1.000
5.4
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Time Ratio (t/tp)
D
i
s
c
h
a
r
g
e
R
a
t
i
o
(
q
/
q
p
)
Fig. 5.1:
Dimensionle
ss Unit
Hydrograph
and Mass
Curve
(Computed
from Table
5.1)
5.2.3 Convolution
The dimensionless unit hydrograph is made dimensional by computing the peak
discharge and timetopeak. The design hydrograph is computed by translating the
excess precipitation employing the unit hydrograph by a process named as
convolution. Analytically speaking, convolution is referred to as the theory of linear
super positioning.
5.5
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
5.6
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
Fig: 5.2: Dimensionless Curvilinear Unit
Hydrograph and Equivalent Triangular
Hydrograph
(Source: Adopted from H.McLVEN, 1982)
5.7
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
Example 5.1 (Adopted from HEC 22)
Given: The following watershed conditions:
Watershed is commercially developed.
Watershed area = 1.2 km
2
.
Time of concentration = 1.34 hr.
Find: The triangular SCS unit hydrograph.
Solution:
Step 1: Calculate peak flow using Equation 5.4.
s
m
t
Q A
q
c
D k
p
3
8 . 2
34 . 1
) 1 )( 2 . 1 ( 125 . 3 125 . 3
Step 2: Calculate time to peak using Equation 5.7.
hr t t
c p
893 . 0 ) 34 . 1 (
3
2
3
2
Step 3: Calculate time base of UH.
hr t
b
38 . 2 ) 893 . 0 (
3
8
Step 4: Draw resulting triangular UH. (see Figure Example 5.1)
Fig.
Example 5.1:
The
Triangular
5.8
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
Unit
Hydrograph
5.9
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
Example 5.2 (Adopted from HEC 22)
Given:
Excess rainfall data given in Table Example 5.2.1
Table: Example 5.2.1
Time, t (hr)
Discharge, Q
(m3/s)
Excess Rainfall
(cm/hr)
0
1
2
3
0
30
10
0
0
0.5
1.0
1.5
Find: The resulting convoluted direct runoff outflow hydrograph.
Solution:
Step 1: The unit hydrograph and excess rainfall are displayed in Figure Example 5.2 2 (a).
Step 2: Using the following table, the total direct runoff outflow hydrograph will be developed.
Column one lists the time increments. Column two lists the ordinates of the unit hydrograph.
Column three calculates the direct runoff for the first hour of excess precipitation. The values
are the ordinates of the UH multiplied by the amount of excess precipitation for the first hour.
Column four is produced as was column three except the amount of precipitation is for the
second hour of excess rainfall and the time is lagged by one hour. Column five is lagged by
two hours and contains the values for the third hour of precipitation. Finally, the total direct
runoff outflow hydrograph is determined by summing the values across each row for columns
three through five.
Table: Example 5.2.2
Time
, t
(hr)
Unit
Hydrograp
h
Discharge,
Q (m
3
/s)
Direct Runoff
for first hour
(m
3
/s)
Direct Runoff
for second
hour
(m
3
/s)
Direct Runoff
for third hour
(m
3
/s)
Total Direct
Runoff Outflow
Hydrograph
(m
3
/s)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
0
1
2
3
4
5
0
30
10
0
(0.5)(0) = 0
(0.5)(30)=15
(0.5)(10)=5
(0.5)(0)=0

(1.0)(0)=0
(1.0)(30)=30
(1.0)(10)=10
(1.0)(0)=0


(1.5)(0)=0
(1.5)(30)=45
(1.5)(10)=15
(1.5)(0)=0
0=0
15+0=15
5+30+0=35
0+10+45=55
0+15=15
0=0
The final total direct outflow hydrograph is shown in Figure Table: Example 5.22 (b)
5.10
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
Time, t(hr)
Increamental Runoff
D
i
r
e
c
t
R
u
n
o
f
f
(
c
m
s
)
P
r
e
c
i
p
.
E
x
c
c
e
s
s
(
c
m
/
h
r
)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0
20
40
1.5
1.0
0.5
0.0
Fig. Example 5.2 1 Incremental Runoff
P
r
e
c
i
p
.
E
x
c
c
e
s
s
(
c
m
/
h
r
)
Increamental Runoff
Time, t(hr)
0
20
40
60
1.5
1.0
0.5
0
D
i
r
e
c
t
R
u
n
o
f
f
(
c
m
s
)
1. Runoff for First Hour Excess Precipitation
2. Runoff for Second Hour Excess Precipitation
3. Runoff for Third Hour Excess Precipitation
4. Total Direct Runoff Outflow Hydrograph
1
2
3
4
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Fig. Example 5.2 2 (a) and (b) Convolution of Unit Hydrograph
5.11
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
5.3 TRRL East African Flood Model
5.3.1 Form of Model
The most widely used dimensionless unit hydrograph is that of the US Soil
Conservation Service. The similar results for the ratio of time to peak to base time for
other catchments is not satisfactorily applicable in East African catchments studied by
TRRL. In the TRRL East African Flood Model the base time is assumed to be the time
from 1 per cent of peak flow on the rising limb to 10 per cent of peak flow on the falling
limb of the hydrograph. Defined this way, the ratio of base time to time to peak is
approximately 3.0 for US hydrographs. For East African catchments it varied between
2.7 and 11.0. The use of a single hydrograph base on time to peak was therefore not
appropriate.
A much more stable ratio was found to be the peak flow (Q) divided by the average
flow measured over the base time ) (Q (Peak Flow Factor)
Q
Q
F
Eqn. 5.8
The peak flow can therefore be simply estimated if the average flow during the base
time of the hydrograph can be calculated.
The total volume of runoff is given by:
) ( 10 * * ) (
3 3
m A C Y P RO
A
Eqn. 5.9
Where: P = rainfall (mm) during time period equal to the base time
Y = initial retention
CA = contributing are coefficient
A = catchment area (km
2
)
If the hydrograph base time is measured to a point on the recession curve at which the
flow is one tenth of the peak flow, then the volume under the hydrograph is
approximately 7 per cent less than the total run off given by eqn. 5.9
The average flow ) (Q is therefore given by:
B
T
RO
Q
* 3600
* 93 . 0
Eqn. 5.10
Where:
TB = hydrograph base time (hrs.)
Estimates of Y and CA are required to calculate RO and lag time K to calculate TB.
5.3.2 Initial Retention (Y)
In arid and semi arid zones an initial retention of 5 mm could be considered. Elsewhere
zero initial retention could be assumed.
5.12
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
5.3.3 Contributing Area Coefficient (CA)
Contributing area coefficient is a coefficient that reflects the effects of the catchment
wetness and the land use. A grassed catchment at field capacity is taken as a standard
value of contributing area coefficient. The design value of the contributing area
coefficient could be estimated from the following equation.
L W S A
C C C C * * Eqn. 5.11
Where: CS = the standard value of contributing area coefficient for a grassed
catchment at field capacity
CW = the catchment wetness factor
CL = the land use factor
The three factors are given in Tables 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4
Table 5.2: Standard Contributing Area Coefficient (wet zone catchment,
short grass cover)
Source: TRRL Laboratory Report 706
Catchment Slope
Soil Type
Well Drained
Slightly Impeded
Drainage
Impeded Drainage
Very Flat < 1.0 %
Moderate 14 %
Rolling 410 %
Hilly 1020 %
Mountainous >20 %
0.09
0.10
0.11
0.12
0.15
0.38
0.45
0.50
0.30
0.40
0.50
Note: The soil types are based on the soil map contained in the Hand Book of Natural
Resources of East Africa
Table 5.3: Catchment Wetness Factor (Source: TRRL Laboratory Report
706)
Rainfall Zone
Catchment Wetness Factor
Perennial Streams Ephemera Streams
Wet Zone
Semi Arid Zone
Dry Zones (except West. Uganda)
West Uganda
1.0
1.0
0.75
0.60
1.0
1.0
0.50
0.30
5.13
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
Drainage Design Manual Section 5
Table 5.4: Land Use Factor (Base assumes short grass cover)
Source: TRRL Laboratory Report 706
Land Use Land Use Factor
Largely bare soil
Intense cultivation (particularly in valleys)
Grass cover
Dense vegetation (particularly in valleys)
Ephemeral steam, sand filled valley
Swamp filled valley
Forest
1.50
1.50
1.00
0.50
0.50
0.33
0.33
5.3.4 Catchment lag Time (K)
The appropriate value of lag time can be estimated from Table 5.5. In assessing which
category to place a given catchment, it should be remembered that generally only small
areas either side of the stream are contributing to the flood hydrograph. It is these
areas, therefore, which must be assessed.
Table 5.5: Catchment Lag Time (Source: TRRL Laboratory Report 706)
Catchment Type Lag Time (K) in hrs
Arid
Very steep small catchments (slope > 20 %)
Semi arid scrub (large bare soil patches)
Poor pasture
Good pasture
Cultivated land (down to river bank)
Forest, overgrown valley bottom
Papyrus swamp in valley bottom
0.1
0.1
0.3
0.5
1.5
3.0
8.0
20.0
5.3.5 Base Time
The rainfall time (TP) is the time during which the rainfall intensity remains at high level.
This can be approximated by the time during which 60 per cent of the total rainfall
occurs. Using the general intensity duration frequency equation,
the time to give 60 per cent of the total rainfall is
given by solving the above equation.
c
d
d
t
t
,
_
33 . 0
33 . 24
24
6 . 0 Eqn. 5.12
Values for the various rainfall zones of East Africa are given in Table 5.6
Table 5.6: Rainfall Time (TP) for East African 10 year Storm
5.14
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
c
d
t
a
i
) 33 . 0 ( +
,
_
Where
24
10
R
=daily rainfall of 10 years average recurrence interval
and c = 0.96 (Table 5.6)
Using rainfall map (Appendix 4.3)
Daily point rainfall of Average recurrence interval 2 year = 63 mm
10:2 yr ratio = 1.49
Daily rainfall of average recurrence interval 10 yr = 94 mm
mm R 79 . 73 94 *
33 . 0 9 . 1
33 . 24
24
9 . 1
96 . 0
9 . 1
,
_
+
R
ARF = 0.84
Therefore P = 63.63 mm
Q = 17.11 m
3
/sec
TA = 0.32 hrs (no change)
Therefore Q = F * Q
For K less than 0.5 hour F = 2.8
For K more than 1 hour, F = 2.3
For the case at hand, therefore, F = 2.8
Therefore, Q = 2.8 * 17.11
= 47.91 m
3
/sec
5.16
Ministry of Works, Housing & Communications
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