Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to use a Storage Area to define a Reservoir.

Written by Chris Goodell, P.E., D. WRE | WEST Consultants
Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.

It’s a little confusing, and not really directly covered in the manuals anywhere. But I get this question a lot. “How do use a Storage Area to define my reservoir in RAS?” First of all, make sure using a Storage Area and level pool routing is an appropriate way to model your reservoir. This is even more important if you are modeling a dam breach on this reservoir. Check this post first to make sure it’s okay.

Once you’re happy with the level pool assumption, draw in (or import)your downstream reach in the geometric editor. Then add in your cross sections. Next, place your inline structure (dam) at the upstream end of the reach. You’ll need to place two dummy cross sections upstream of your inline structure (and downstream of your storage area). These can be copies of the cross section downstream of the dam, but should be as close as possible to the upstream toe of the dam and close enough to each other to minimize the associated volume (relative to the reservoir’s total volume). Next draw (or import) your storage area upstream of the inline structure and it’s two dummy cross sections. It’s not uncommon to have the two cross sections reside within the storage area’s boundaries. That’s okay and it doesn’t affect the computations either way.

To make RAS recognize the connection between the upper dummy cross section and the storage area, you have to “move” the upper end point of the reach inside the storage area. To do this, go to Edit…Move Object, in the main geometry window.


Once in “move” mode, click and drag the upstream end point inside the storage area. RAS should then automatically recognize the connection. Make sure to uncheck “Move Object” in the menu once you’re finished. It should look something like this when done:image

Make sure you provide some outlet flow, or your dam will overtop at the beginning of the simulation. This can be done by coding in gates, or by providing pilot flow. If you’re providing pilot flow, you must enter in an “Internal R.S. Initial Stage” for one of the dummy cross sections to set up your starting pool elevation. This is set in the Options menu item in the Unsteady Flow Editor.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stability Issues with Storage Areas

Written by Chris Goodell, P.E., D. WRE | WEST Consultants
Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.

Storage Areas in unsteady RAS are notoriously stable. That’s why we like to use them. Get the water out of the 1-d St. Venant unstable environment, into the 0-d stable continuity environment. However, I recently discovered a problem with storage areas that could cause your model to go unstable, or at least chug along slowly at max iterations.

Storage Areas in RAS are defined solely by a storage-elevation curve. That’s another reason we like them…they’re easy to code in. A typical storage-elevation curve looks like this:


Notice how is rises fairly quickly in stage from its minimum elevation then starts to level off as the added volume per ft of stage becomes larger and larger.

Now, if you have a storage volume curve that rises too quickly, it could pose problems.


Because the storage area is handled with the continuity equation, this is typically not an issue by itself. However, when these storage areas are connected with a reach (and they typically are) in the “quickly rising” range of elevations (here in the example between elevations 4388 and 4393), then we might violate my number one rule of unsteady flow RAS modeling-Changes should happen gradually-changes in discharge, changes in stage, changes in flow area, etc. etc ,whatever. In this case we are changing the stage in the storage area which is causing a quick change in flow over the connecting lateral structure and a quick change in stage in the adjacent cross section(s).

Solution: Looking at this steeply rising storage area curve , we can guess that the quickly rising portion of the curve might represent some small ditches or creeks, or even some small pits within the storage area. Is it critical to represent these features in the model, especially if we’re most interested in the high flow portion of the simulation? Also, will it make that much difference to remove these features? Probably not. We should keep the invert or minimum elevation point, incase any connecting cross sections have inverts at that elevation, but if we remove the 2nd and 3rd points from the curve, it doesn’t drastically change the look of the curve, and it just might stabilize this area.


How to spot this problem: While you’re running your model, if it gets caught on maximum iterations at a storage area, or if it bounces between a storage area and an adjacent part of a reach, then this could be the problem. Also, if you’re maxing on iterations at a cross section or range of cross sections that is adjacent to a lateral structure, and the elevation of the reported error suggests you are overtopping that lateral structure, make sure that the connecting storage area doesn’t have a steeply rising storage elevation curve.

Here’s an example:

Maximum iterations of 20 at: RS WSEL ERROR

03JAN2010 09:50:38 River Upper 34454.76 4423.88 0.055

03JAN2010 09:51:00 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.34 0.027

03JAN2010 09:51:08 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.39 0.048

03JAN2010 09:51:23 SA Area47 4392.44 0.052

03JAN2010 09:51:30 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.34 0.026

03JAN2010 09:51:38 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.39 0.047

03JAN2010 09:51:53 SA Area47 4392.66 0.058

03JAN2010 09:52:00 River Upper 34454.76 4423.93 0.028

03JAN2010 09:52:08 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.39 0.048

03JAN2010 09:52:23 SA Area47 4392.91 0.065

03JAN2010 09:52:30 River Upper 34454.76 4423.93 0.027

03JAN2010 09:52:38 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.40 0.048

03JAN2010 09:52:53 SA Area47 4393.19 0.073

03JAN2010 09:53:00 River Upper 34454.76 4423.94 0.030

03JAN2010 09:53:08 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.40 0.050

03JAN2010 09:53:23 SA Area47 4393.50 0.080

03JAN2010 09:53:30 SA Area47 4393.58 0.083

03JAN2010 09:53:38 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.40 0.051

03JAN2010 09:53:53 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.38 0.022

03JAN2010 09:54:00 River Upper 34454.76 4423.94 0.023

03JAN2010 09:54:08 River Upper 34602.8* 4424.41 0.050

03JAN2010 09:54:30 River Upper 34454.76 4423.96 0.037

Notice how the errors are bouncing between Storage Area 47 and a specific part of the reach “River Upper”. If we check storage area 47, sure enough, its storage elevation curve rises very quickly, and could probably be adjusted to removed the stability issue in the range of stages shown in the computation message log (about 4392 to 4393 ft).