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Storm Sewer Design:

Population growth and urban development can create potentially severe

problems in urban water management. One of the most important facilities in
preserving and improving the urban water environment is an adequate and
properly functioning storm water drainage system.

One view of the typical urban drainage system is shown in Figure. The
system can be considered as consisting of two major types of elements: location
elements and transfer elements. Location elements are the places where the
water stops and undergoes changes as a result of humanly controlled
processes, for example, water storage, water treatment, water use, and waste water

Fig. Typical urban drainage system. (Source: Roesner, 1982, Copyright by the
American Geophysical Union)

Transfer elements connect the location elements; these elements include channels,
pipelines, storm sewers, sanitary sewers, and streets. The system is fed by rainfall,
influent water from various sources, and imported water in the pipes or channels. The
receiving water body can be a river, a lake, or an ocean. Above Figure shows a storm
sewer system for collection of storm drainage in a pipe network and discharge to a
receiving water body.
Design Philosophy:

A storm sewer system is a network of pipes used to convey storm runoff in a

city. The design of storm sewer systems involves the determination of
diameters, slopes, and crown or invert elevations for each pipe in the system.
The crown and invert elevations of a pipe are, respectively, the elevations of
the top and the bottom of the pipe circumference.

The selection of a layout or network of pipe locations, for a storm sewer system
requires a considerable amount of subjective judgment. Hydrologists are
usually able to investigate only a few of the possible layouts. Generally,
manholes are placed at street intersections and at major changes in grade, or
ground surface slope, and the sewers are sloped in the direction of the ground
surface, so as to connect with downstream submains and trunk sewers. Once a
layout has been selected, the rational method can be used to select pipe
diameter. This conventional design approach is based on a set of design
standards and criteria, such as those set forth by the American Society of Civil
Engineers (1960) and various planning agencies.

Storm drainage design can be divided into two aspects: runoff prediction and
system design. In recent years, rainfall-runoff modeling for urban watersheds
has been a popular activity and a variety of such rainfall-runoff models are now

The following constraints and assumptions are commonly used in storm sewer
design practice:

l. Free surface flow exists for the design discharges; that is, the sewer system
is designed for "gravity flow"; pumping stations and pressurized sewers are not

2. The sewers are of commercially available circular sizes no smaller than 8

inches in diameter.

3. The design diameter is the smallest commercially available pipe having

flow capacity equal to or greater than the design discharge and satisfying all
the appropriate constraints.

4. Storm sewers must be placed at a depth such that they will not be susceptible
to frost, will be able to drain basements, and will have sufficient cushioning to
prevent breakage due to ground surface loading. To this ends, minimum cover
depths must be specified.
5. The sewers are joined at junctions such that the crown elevation of the
upstream sewer is no lower than that of the downstream sewer.

6. To prevent or reduce excessive deposition of solid material in the sewers, a

minimum permissible flow velocity at design discharge or at barely full pipe
gravity flow is specified (e.g., 2.5 ft/s).

7. To prevent scour and other undesirable effects of high-velocity flow, a

maximum permissible flow velocity is also specified.

8. At any junction or manhole the downstream sewer cannot be smaller than any
of the upstream sewers at the junction.

9. The sewer system is a dendritic, or branching, network converging in the

downstream direction without closed loops.

Rational method:

The rational method, which can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century, is
still probably the most widely used method for design of storm sewers (Pilgrim,
1986; Linsley, 1986). Although valid criticisms have been raised about the
adequacy of this method, it continues to be used for sewer design because of its
simplicity. Once the layout is selected and the pipe sizes determined by the
rational method, the adequacy of the system can be checked by dynamic
routing of flow hydrographs through the system.

The idea behind the rational method is that if a rainfall of intensity i begins
instantaneously and continues indefinitely, the rate of runoff will decrease until
the time of concentration tc, when all of the watershed is contributing to flow at the
outlet. The product of rainfall intensity i and watershed area A is the inflow rate for the
system, iA, and the ratio of this rate to the rate of peak discharge Q (which occurs at
time tc) is termed the runoff coefficient C (0 =< C =< 1). This is expressed in the
rational formula:

Q = CiA

Commonly, Q is in cubic feet per second (cfs), i is in inches per hour, and A is
in acres, and the conversion (l cfs = 1.008 is considered to be
included in the runoff coefficient. The duration used for the determinatio n of
the design precipitation intensity i in the above eq., is the time of concentration
of the watershed.

In urban areas, the drainage area usually consists of subareas or sub catchments
of different surface characteristics. As a result, a composite analysis is required
that must account for the various surface characteristics. The areas of the sub-
catchments are denoted by A j and the runoff coefficients of each sub-catchment
are denoted by C j . The peak runoff is then computed using the following form
of the rational formula:


where m is the number of sub-catchments drained by a sewer.

The assumptions associated with the rational method are:

l. The computed peak rate of runoff at the outlet point is a function of the
average rainfall rate during the time of concentration, that is, the peak
discharge does not result from a more intense storm of shorter duration, during
which only a portion of the watershed is contributing to runoff at the outlet.

2. The time of concentration employed is the time for the runoff to become established
and flow from the most remote part of the drainage area to the inflow point of the
sewer being designed.

3. Rainfall intensity is constant throughout the storm duration.

Table. Runoff coefficient for use in the rational method

Rainfall Intensity
The rainfall intensity i is the average rainfall rate in inches per hour for a
particular drainage basin or subbasin. The intensity is selected on the basis of
the design rainfall duration and return period. The design duration is equal to
the time of concentration for the drainage area under consideration. The return
period is established by design standards or chosen by the hydrologist as a
design parameter.

Runoff is assumed to reach a peak at the time of concentration tc when the entire
watershed is contributing to flow at the outlet. The time of concentration is the time
for a drop of water to flow from the remotest point in the watershed to the point of
interest. A trial and error procedure can be used to determine the critical time of
concentration where there are several possible flowpaths to consider. The time of
concentration to any point to any point in a storm drainage system is the sum of the
inlet time t0 (the time it takes for flow from the remotest point to reach the sewer
inlet), and the flow time t f in the upstream sewers connected to the outer point:

tc = t0 + t f

The flow time is given by Eq.:

tf =

where is the length of the i-th pipe along the flow path, and is the flow

velocity in the pipe.