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Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5106

Prepared in cooperation with the Kane County Department of Environmental and Building Management and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources—Office of Water Resources

Effect of Detention Basin Release Rates on Flood Flows—Application of a Model to the Blackberry Creek Watershed in Kane County, Illinois

By David T. Soong, Elizabeth A. Murphy, and Timothy D. Straub


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The effects of stormwater detention basins with specified release rates are examined on the watershed scale with a Hydrological Simulation Program—FORTRAN (HSPF) continuous-simulation model. Modeling procedures for specifying release rates from detention basins with orifice and weir discharge configurations are discussed in this report. To facilitate future detention modeling as a tool for watershed management, a chart relating watershed impervious area to detention volume is presented. The report also presents a case study of the Blackberry Creek watershed in Kane County, Ill., a rapidly urbanizing area seeking to avoid future flood damages from increased urbanization, to illustrate the effects of various detention basin release rates on flood peaks and volumes and flood frequencies. The case study compares flows simulated with a 1996 land-use HSPF model to those simulated with four different 2020 projected land-use HSPF model scenarios—no detention, and detention basins with release rates of 0.08, 0.10, and 0.12 cubic feet per second per acre (ft3/s-acre), respectively. Results of the simulations for 15 locations, which included the downstream ends of all tributaries and various locations along the main stem, showed that a release rate of 0.10 ft3/s-acre, in general, can maintain postdevelopment 100-year peak-flood discharge at a similar magnitude to that of 1996 land-use conditions. Although the release rate is designed to reduce the 100-year peak flow, reduction of the 2-year peak flow is also achieved for a smaller proportion of the peak. Results also showed that the 0.10 ft3/s-acre release rate was less effective in watersheds with relatively high percentages of preexisting (1996) development than in watersheds with less preexisting development.

Posted August 7,2009

For additional information contact:
Director, Illinois Water
   Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Suite 100
1201 West University Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801–2347

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Suggested citation:

Soong, D.T., Murphy, E.A., and Straub, T.D., 2009, Effect of detention basin release rates on flood flows—Application of a model to the Blackberry Creek Watershed in Kane County, Illinois: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5106, 33 p Online Only.




Purpose and Scope

Previous Studies

Release Rates in Northeastern Illinois

Release Rates in Continuous Hydrologic Simulation

Detention Modeling

Detention Basin Volume Estimation

Multiple Release Rates

Blackberry Creek Detention Modeling Case Study



Simulation Results

Summary and Conclusions


References Cited

Appendix 1.  Flood quantiles estimated for selected recurrence intervals based on Hydrological Simulation Program–FORTRAN analysis for
                 the 1996 land uses, 2020 projected land uses without detention basins, and 2020 projected land uses with detention basins
                 and release rates of 0.08, 0.10, and 0.12 cubic feet per second per acre at subbasins of the Blackberry Creek watershed in
                 Kane County, Illinois

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