Analyses of urban drainage network structure and its impact on hydrologic response

Katherine L. Meierdiercks, James A. Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, Andrew J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Urban flood studies have linked the severity of flooding to the percent imperviousness or land use classifications of a watershed, but relatively little attention has been given to the impact of urban drainage networks on hydrologic response. The drainage network, which can include storm pipes, surface channels, street gutters, and stormwater management ponds, is examined in the Dead Run watershed (14.3 km2). Comprehensive digital representations of the urban drainage network in Dead Run were developed and provide a key observational resource for analyses of urban drainage networks and their impact on hydrologic response. Analyses in this study focus on three headwater subbasins with drainage areas ranging from 1.3 to 1.9 km2 and that exhibit striking contrasts in their patterns and history of development. It is shown that the drainage networks of the three subbasins, like natural river networks, exhibit characteristic structures and that these features play critical roles in determining urban hydrologic response. Hydrologic modeling analyses utilize the Environmental Protection Agency's Stormwater Management Model (SWMM), which provides a flexible platform for examining the impacts of drainage network structure on hydrologic response. Results of SWMM modeling analyses suggest that drainage density and presence of stormwater ponds impact peak discharge more significantly in the Dead Run subbasins than the percent impervious or land use type of the subbasins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)932-943
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Ecology


  • Flooding
  • Geographic information system
  • River networks
  • Stormwater management
  • Surface water hydrology
  • Urbanization


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