Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wormhole Island - "What's the Best Shape for a Wormhole Culvert?"

Written by Krey Price  |  Director, Surface Water Solutions
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2017.  All rights reserved
A recent question was posted on the HEC-RAS blog regarding the optimal shape of the SA/2D Area Connection alignment for a wormhole culvert – in particular, whether a “Z” shape or “S” shape would be preferable. My apologies in advance for the drawn-out response, but I’ve had this question come up a number of times in class and thought I’d post some of my whiteboard sketches along with some random thoughts on the topic:
“Z” or “S”?
If you draw a “Z” shape, the order in which the vertices are entered will determine the direction of flow (always oriented from left to right looking downstream in HEC-RAS). The following image shows four different ways to draw a “Z”-shaped connection along with the associated orientation of flow that will be assumed in HEC-RAS. In the case of a wormhole culvert, flow could enter the “wormhole” at any of the green arrows (or at any point along each of the adjacent faces) and exit along any of the faces indicated by the red arrows. Wormhole culvert inlets and outlets typically wouldn’t be located along the diagonal segment of the “Z”, but directional arrows are shown along those segments to illustrate how the orientation of flow is preserved along the entire shape:

Read more here:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Putting Wormhole Culverts to the Test

Written by Krey Price  |  Director, Surface Water Solutions
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2017.  All rights reserved. 


The original post about “Wormhole Culverts” received thousands of hits, and many HEC-RAS users are now applying this method regularly in their models; but how valid are the hydraulics over the full range of open channel flow, pressure flow, and weir flow? Given the amount of use they are getting, it’s high time to put wormhole culverts to the test!

This test run assesses wormhole culverts against other approaches for modelling hydraulic structures in 1D and 2D model reaches.

The results show very similar water surface profiles between the various methods. The wormhole method provides the ability to correctly display terrain data for roadways and bridge decks in viewing plan and profile results.

While coupled 1D-2D reaches would still be required for detailed bridge designs in HEC-RAS, wormhole culverts appear to be a viable means of accounting for bridges and culverts with substantial terrain detail between the inlet and outlet that is subject to 2-dimensional flood flows.


Read more about the model setup and results here.


Monday, May 8, 2017

European HEC Software Workshop - London July 25-27 2017

JBA Consulting will be hosting another HEC Software Workshop this summer.

Back for 2017

This is the second software workshop in Europe dedicated to the HEC hydraulic and hydrological modelling software – HEC-RAS, HEC-HMS, HEC-DSS and HEC-ResSim.

We are working with the team at Hydrologic Engineering Center plus other leading users of the HEC software bringing you the chance to meet, learn, explore and discover the HEC software which is available for free.
This event will be packed with key-note presentations, master-classes, case studies and time to network with fellow modellers and researchers. The workshops and case studies will feature the latest thinking from some of the leading experts in this area, giving you practical solutions to take away with you. Offering you the flexibility of three ways to attend:
  • One day workshop
  • Two day training course
  • Three day event
There will be particular emphasis on HEC-HMS and the two day training course will focus on its use in flood forecasting, routing methods and rainfall-runoff approaches.

Check the following link for more information:
https://www.jbaconsulting.com/what-we-do/flood-and-water-management/hec-software-workshop/

Monday, May 1, 2017

Back to the Basics: Bank Station Placement - Part 2

Written by Martin J. Teal, P.E., P.H., D.WRE  |  Vice President, WEST Consultants 
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2017.  All rights reserved. 



Expanding upon Chris’ discussion of where to place bank stations, what should you do about high terrain somewhere in the middle of your cross section?  Here is an example:


How should we treat the left overbank?  It’s hard to tell if the high area next the left bank is isolated (i.e., it would be an island if the water surface were to get to elevation 370 or so) or if it is a continuous feature (such as a levee) that would prevent flow from accessing the left overbank until it is overtopped.  Looking at this another way, is the lower ground of the left overbank a continuous flow path or is it an isolated low spot (for example, a mining pit)? Aerial photography can often help determine the situation; here is the overhead view for our example:


The area in question is vegetated (the terrain goes up steeply when it gets to the storage yard on the bottom of the photograph) but it is hard to tell if the high point in the terrain would be constraining flow or if the low area is a potential flow path.  Looking at the cross sections upstream and downstream of the one in question will often provide answers, but does not help in this particular example.  In this case, the best course of action would be to go out to the river and see for yourself, then imagine how the water would behave.  Depending on your conclusion, there are several ways that this can be modeled.

1.  Isolated high spot.  If flow can simply go around the high spot in this particular cross section then we probably don’t need any further adjustments. You may get a “divided flow” warning in the output that signifies that the program detected dry ground with water on either side, but no action is needed to address the warning in this case. Assuming that the computed water surface elevation is high enough, this solution will also allow flow in the left overbank.

2.  Isolated low spot in overbank.  You could model this as per #1 above but in that case you should check flow distribution between the channel and overbanks up and downstream of this cross section for reasonable transitions (see earlier blog post from May 20, 2009).  Or, if you think that the low area should only store but not convey water you could set an ineffective flow limit as shown below.



3.  Continuous high ground.  If the high ground is really a ridge that would prevent the water from accessing the lower ground in the left overbank, it should be modeled as a levee. However, in this case another decision needs to be made depending on what happens after the levee is overtopped. Will the water be conveyed on the land side, or will it just pond?  If the latter you may need to add an ineffective flow limit at or just to the left of the levee.

4.  Something in between.  Regardless of whether the high or low features of the cross section are continuous, water is able to access the left overbank.  Natural streams often have “backswamp” areas behind either human-made or natural levees that flood and store water but do not really convey much flow downstream. If the left overbank in our example is like this, we could model it by using the ineffective flow limit as per #2 above.  However, ineffective flow means zero conveyance.  If we expect some water to move in the overbank, albeit very slowly, you may want to allow a small non-zero conveyance.  A few sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that we are using a Manning’s roughness coefficient of 0.3 in the left overbank. Using this value allows a small amount of conveyance in that overbank without zeroing it out completely.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Back to the Basics: Bank Station Placement

Written by Christopher Goodell, P.E., D.WRE  |  WEST Consultants 
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2017.  All rights reserved. 

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of basic bank station issues for models I have reviewed.  Some real basic stuff.  So I thought it would be good to go back to the basics a bit here and review proper placement of bank stations for cross sections in HEC-RAS. 

What do bank stations do for us?  First of all, they separate your channel into three distinct conveyance zones.  One for the left overbank, one for the main channel and one for the right overbank.  Not every application has multiple conveyance zones (i.e. canals), but most natural systems do.  By segregating out the different conveyance zones, we are using Manning’s equation to more appropriately determine energy loss through the system.  Here’s an example of a simple cross section with properly placed bank stations:


Notice the bank stations (the red dots on the plot) also reside at the grade break between the physical channel and the flatter overbanks.  While this is typically what is done, remember the correct placement should always be made based on the location of the change in conveyance.  For example, if you have a lot of thick vegetation down the banks of the channel, you might conclude that the excessive roughness there pushes the boundary between conveyance zones down closer to the toe of the banks like so:



Sometimes locating the bank stations are not as obvious as these examples.  For example, where should the bank stations be placed for a cross section like this?


One might initially conclude that the deeper channel should get the bank stations in which case you may place them like this:


However, it is important to know what is happening upstream and downstream of this location before you can make this decision.  Perhaps the smaller channel is actually the main conveyance and there just happens to be a large low-lying area in the left overbank. 


You would only know this by studying the reach above and below this spot.  Having nice aerial imagery behind the geometry schematic can help to make this decision for you. 


Notice in the figure above, the main channel is very obvious.  Even though there may be some low spots in the right overbank, we can clearly see where the main channel is and the bank stations have been placed accordingly.  It’s also important to point out that as you move through your reach, the placement of bank stations should be fairly consistent from cross section to cross section.  Changes in main channel width should generally be gradual from one cross section to the next. 

One of the most basic steps in constructing your HEC-RAS model is to go through every cross section and properly place bank stations.  If you are importing your cross sections from GIS (e.g. via GeoRAS), make sure that your bank line delineation placed the bank stations properly.  While your bank lines may look like they follow the conveyance boundaries well, you may see a very different picture once you’ve imported your cross sections and look at them in cross section view.  It’s always important to fine-tune your bank station placement in HEC-RAS after importing cross sections. 

As with most things in HEC-RAS, there are always exceptions to the rule.  The key thing to remember is that you want to place bank stations so that they capture the change in conveyance between the main channel and the overbanks and that the resulting main channel width doesn’t change too drastically from one cross section to the next.  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Rating Curves for Dams

Written by Jesse Rufener, P.E., CFM | GPD Group
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2017. All rights reserved.


Version 5 of HEC-RAS allows the use of rating curves for inline structures (and lateral structures).  Rating curves can be added through the Outlet RC feature in the inline structure editor.  Inline structure rating curves can be useful for evaluating the impacts of structures, such as labyrinth dams, where it may be difficult to correctly capture the geometry and/or flow properties within the inline structure editor.



Click the Outlet RC button and in the following menu you can add your rating curve based on upstream flow or water surface elevation. 


Please note that the rating curve must account for any influence of downstream tailwater as HEC-RAS does not with the rating curve option. 

When using the inline structure rating curve, the top of the dam must be above the highest elevation on the rating curve if you only want the rating curve to account for flow over the outlet feature.  You can check the Stage and Flow hydrograph to see how the rating curve is contributing to flow past the inline structure.  In the image below, the total flow is a combination of the rating curve and flow over the structure as I didn’t have the top of dam elevation set high enough in the first iteration.



Note that the peak flow is 34,471 cfs with a peak HW stage of 927.86.  When I raised the top of the dam to be above the top elevation of the rating curve, the peak flow is 33,967 cfs with a peak HW stage of 930.47 as shown in the Stage and Flow hydrograph below.  The peak flow rates are within 1.5%, but the peak HW elevations differ by almost 3’.





The Outlet RC feature is also available for lateral structures.