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GENERATION OF OVERLAND FLOW

LESLY ANN PAULINE MANAOAT


DIANNE ANGELA MONTEFRIO
FRANCIS REY ODTOHAN
Adamson University
College of Engineering
Civil Engineering Department
OVERLAND FLOW
Overland flow is that portion of runoff
that occurs as sheet flow over a land
surface
without
becoming
concentrated
in
well-defined
channel, gullies, and rills. A common
example is flow over long, graduallysloped
pavements
during
or
immediately following a storm.
CONDITIONS PRODUCING THE
BEST EXAMPLE OF OVERLAND
FLOW
Overland flow or surface runoff
occurs when the amount of water
(usually from rainfall) accumulating
on the land surface exceeds the
infiltration capacity of the soil. This
water is available as surface runoff
or overland flow, flowing on the land
surface down-gradient towards a
river or a local depression in the
topography. Overland flow occurs in
areas with low permeable soils
and/or in areas with high rainfall
rates. A land area producing runoff
which drains to a common outflow
point is called a watershed. When
water flows along the ground, it can
pick up sediments or contaminants
and lead to sedimentation or water
pollution in nearby streams.

Surface runoff may be generated in


three ways:
i.

When the rate of rainfall


exceeds
the
infiltration
capacity of the ground. This is
called
infiltration
excess
overland flow or Horton
overland flow. This occurs
mainly in arid and semi-arid
regions,
where
rainfall
intensities are high.

ii.

When the soil is saturated and


the depression storage is
filled, and rain continues to
fall. This is called saturation
excess overland flow or
saturated overland flow.

iii.

When groundwater is flowing


to the surface (flowing out of
the soil) close to a channel or
a depression. This is called
subsurface storm flow or
interflow.

magnitude as this may give rise to


simulation rates which relatively deviate
considerably. The infiltration rate may be
influenced by several other factors, such as
frost/thaw, presence of stones and
crusting.
Particularly in tropical environments,
Hortonian type of overland flow may be an
important generator of overland flow. In
other environments, and in particular in the
temperate regions, the major source of
overland flow is saturated overland flow. In
humid vegetated areas soil moisture levels
tend to build up downslopes, especially
close to streams, and near saturated areas
generate a disproportionate amount of
overland flow runoff.
Surface runoff is mainly controlled by the
slope and the roughness of the surface.
Evaporation and infiltration are also
affecting factors. The main effect of run-off
is observed on the river hydrographs where
the peak values are based on surface
runoff and interflow, as they combine to
give the fast runoff to the river systems.
Surface runoff is one of the causes of soil
erosion.
FACTORS
THAT
MAY
HAVE
CONTRIBUTED TO ITS DEVELOPMENT
As overland flow is the major transporting
agent and in some case also the main
detaching agent, a proper description in
space and time of the generation and
routing of overland flow is crucial.
Regarding the generation of overland flow,
the infiltration rate is the most sensitive
variable. This is in particular true in cases
where the rainfall intensity and the
infiltration rate are of the same order of

Factors such as soil permeability,


topographic slope, and type and density of
vegetation affect the development and
distribution of overland flow in both time
and space. Bare soil areas will facilitate
infiltration excess overland flow because
the energy of raindrops can lead to the
rearrangement of the surface soil particles
which will then create a crust and reduce
the infiltration capacity. On the other hand,
vegetation protects the soil and creates
pathways for water infiltration through its
roots and thus can reduce overland flow in
an area.
OVERLAND FLOW IN PRODUCING
SIGNIFICANT SUFACE EROSION ON
CHANNEL PLANFORM CHANGE
A flood event may be defined as the high
discharge that exceeds the capacity of the
channel, and so flows beyond bank full
discharge onto the adjacent flood plain.
Different sizes of flood are defined in terms
if discharges above a stated flood level
within that location, or in terms of a height

above bank full. Large flood discharges are


less frequent than smaller ones. And so
floods are described in terms of their
magnitude and frequency.
Channel dimension changes
The channel dimension is the shape and
size of the channel cross-section at a
particular location at a bank full discharge
which is when the channel is full of water to
the top if the banks.
Generally, channel dimensions increase as
we move downstream, and as this leads to
increases to hydraulic radius, the channel
becomes more efficient, and so there is a
relatively greater increase in channel
discharge capacity at bank
full stage. Similarly, bed and bank materials
tend to reduce in size downstream due to
increased weathering and erosion of the
material, and so the roughness of the
channel boundary decreases, again
promoting faster flow.
Channel planform changes
There are three basic channel planform
styles or patterns: straight meandering and
braided. Channel sinuosity is the common
measurement used to distinguish between
these three basic patterns.

WAYS IN WHICH OVERLAND FLOW


COULD BE REDUCED OR PREVENTED
Increase soil moisture capacity
The most effective way to improve soil
moisture
capacity
is
to
increase
groundcover. Vegetation intercepts and
slows water so that it has time to soak into
the soil and infiltrate through the soil profile
where it becomes available to plant roots.
Higher and denser vegetation encourages
more infiltration. Vegetation also improves
soil health and structure, further improving
soil moisture capacity.
Other ways to improve infiltration include
reducing soil compaction, and ripping along
slope contours to encourage infiltration and
prevent build-up of surface water. However,
on land prone to mass movement where
soil is already waterlogged, attempting to
increase infiltration could increase the
potential for land slips.
Slow down water flow
As overland flows speed up they become
more erosive, so it is important to slow
down overland flows to minimise erosion.

Flow speed is determined by:


surface roughness
slope steepness
slope length
A rough surface intercepts flowing water,
breaks up its force and slows it down.
Roughness is best achieved with dense
vegetation close to the ground. Slope
steepness has a major effect on soil
erosion because water runs faster down
steep slopes. It is difficult to change the
natural slope so it is important it is to use
other techniques such as groundcover and
banks to slow water speed. On long
slopes, water flow builds up speed and
volume, so slopes need to be broken up
into shorter sections to keep water flows
manageable. This can be done by planting
vegetated strips across the slope to slow
the flow, or building banks to intercept the
water and convey it to a water course or
storage area.
The overland flowing water could be
beneficial by helping to reduce the drought
risk, if it could be controlled and
encouraged to infiltrate the soil.
Grass hedges are a cheap and effective
structure for controlling overland flow and
for filtering nutrients and pollutants. Grass
hedges facilitate deposition of eroded
materials by reducing the carrying capacity
of overland flow and encourage water
infiltration into the soil. The effectiveness of
the grass hedges is influenced by the
length, width and thickness of the
vegetative filter, the characteristics of the
runoff area, the precipitation intensity and
the slope gradient.

REFERENCES:
Abbot, M.B., & Refsgaard, J.C. (1996).
Distributed Hydrological Modeling.
Netherlands, AN: Kluwer Academic
Publishers
Tolba, M.K.(2001). OUR FRAGILE
WORLD: Challenges and Opportunities for
Sustainable development. Oxford, OX:
Eolss Publishers Co. Ltd

Anderson, R.S., & Anderson, S.P. (2010).


Geomorphology: The Mechanics and
Chemistry of Landscapes. United Kingdom,
UK: Cambridge University Press

Department of Primary Industries. Saving


Soil - A landholders guide to preventing
and repairing soil erosion

Wu, J.Y., Huang, D., Teng, W.J. & Sardo,


V.I. (2010). Grass hedges to reduce
overland flow and soil erosion. Agronomy
for Sustainable Development, Springer
Verlag/EDP Sciences/INRA, 2010, 30 (2),
<10.1051/agro/2009037>. <hal-00886503>