Comparison of USGS and HEC-1 Kinematic Wave Runoff Models

  • David R. Dawdy
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 345)


Distributed parameter rainfall-runoff models are a recent development for use in basin modeling. They are useful for modeling the flow to the channel system, combining channel flows, and routing flows to the basin outlet. Two models that are widely available in the United States are models of the Geological Survey and of the Corps of Engineers. These models are particularly appropriate for use in urban systems modeling for master planning because of their capability to model changes in basin physical characteristics. The effects of proposed changes can be predicted, ultimate buildout conditions can be modeled, and downstream effects can be determined in a consistent, overall impact assessment. In addition, for urban basins the relative timing of the various channels determines the response of the basin.

The parameters for the kinematic wave method included in these models are based on physical descriptions of the channels and overland flow areas, which can be determined from maps and physical inspection of the basins. Kinematic wave models require little data to calibrate runoff characteristics. Despite their availability on personal computers, the models are not widely used, partly because they are new and different. To help overcome resistance to their use, a comparison of the two models, their similarities, and their differences is described.


Main Channel Peak Discharge Overland Flow Kinematic Wave Sample Basin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  3. HEC: 1990, ‘HEC-1 Flood Hydrograph Package Users Manual,’ Hydrologic Engineering Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, September 1981. (Updated version February 1990).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Dawdy
    • 1
  1. 1.San FranciscoUSA

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