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Urban Flash Flood Modelling Using Remotely Sensed Data And Hec-RAS: Pune
Case Study

Conference Paper · October 2017

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URBAN FLASH FLOOD MODELLING USING
REMOTELY SENSED DATA AND HEC-RAS: PUNE CASE STUDY
Rahul Nandurkar1, Ravina More2 and Shailesh Deshpande3
1, 3
Tata Consultancy Services, Research and Innovation, Hadapsar Industrial Estate, Pune - 411013, India,
Email: shailesh.deshpande@tcs.com
2
College of Engineering, Shivajinagar, Pune - 411005, India,
Email: morerv16.comp@coep.ac.in

KEY WORDS: Urban Floods, Flash Floods, HEC-RAS, Pune, VIS, GIS

ABSTRACT:

Urban flooding is becoming one of the common reasons for loss of human life and property. India, in the past, has
experienced two such major urban flooding incidents affecting a large amount of population and resulting in
substantial loss of human property: Mumbai and Chennai. This motivates us to model the flood for Indian urban
catchments and to simulate some of the alarming scenarios of the flood in the different parts of the city. We present
in this paper such a case study of the urban flood modeling for Pune city. Integrated use of remote sensing and
geographic information systems are an ideal set of technologies in this case. However, they are not exploited to the
extent possible. We used recent Landsat data to calculate the area covered by impervious surfaces. Supervised
learning was used to classify the urban scene into different vegetation, impervious surface, and soil classes. The
calculated impervious area along with other important land use land cover classes was considered for runoff
calculation. Other supporting data required for hydrological modelings such as rain gauge data and river gauge data
was collected for the study area. All the required map layers were created using QGIS package. We used HEC-RAS
model to estimate the flood depths in Pune city for various rainfall conditions in 2016 monsoon. The estimated
water depths at various locations in Pune city indicate moderate flooding in isolated pockets of the city. For above
average rainfall conditions on 2 consecutive days (Aug. 2, 2016 - 22.9 mm, Aug. 3 2016-54.6 mm) water depths of
~1 m was estimated in a few low-lying areas.

1 INTRODUCTION

Flash flood can be defined as a rapid rise of water level, in drainage system such as streams and storm drains, which
poses a threat to life and property. Heavy excessive rain fall in short duration is one of the primary causes. The
situation is aggravated by increase in impervious surfaces in urban area (National Weather Service Forcast Office).
The urban flooding and rural flooding are of significantly different nature; urbanization results in peak flows within
much shorter duration, and the amount of population affected by flooding is also large. Natural consequences of
urban flash flooding are loss of human life and property. Urban flooding can be mitigated by maintaining existing
natural drainage and providing adequate artificial drainage (Ranger, et al., 2011). Urban flooding has increased
significantly over the past few years causing damage to life and property (De, Singh, & Rase, 2013). Due to the
rapid onset nature of such floods, quick identification and effective mitigation are imperative.

India, in the past has experienced two such major urban flooding incidents affecting large amount of population and
resulting substantial loss of human property: Mumbai and Chennai (Natinal Institute of Urban Affairs, 2016). Many
Indian metros face problems due to illegal filling of urban water bodies. In Kolkatta the Lake Town has affected
because of heavy floods in 1970, 1978, 1984, and recently in 1999. 200 water bodies around the city of Delhi have
been vanished and only 600 out of 800 water bodies remain. Illegal construction has not only affected city planning
but also natural drainage inviting urban floods (NIDM). Pune city has lost 5.30 % of its natural drainage over a
decade owing to the increase in impervious surfaces and unplanned urban development activities (Yadav &
Deshpande, 2015). This motivates us to model the flood for Indian urban catchments and to simulate some of the
alarming scenarios of flood in the different parts of the city.

Integrated use of remote sensing and geographic information systems are ideal set of technologies in this case.
However, they are not exploited to the extent possible. We used recent Landsat 8 (path 147 and row 47) data to
calculate the area covered by impervious surfaces. Supervised learning was used to classify the urban scene into
different vegetation, impervious surface and soil classes. The calculated impervious area along with other important
land use land cover classes was considered for runoff calculation. Other supporting data required for hydrological
modeling such as rain gauge data and river gauge data was collected for the study area. All the required map layers
were created using QGIS package. We used HEC-RAS model to estimate the flood depths in Pune city for various
rainfall conditions in 2016 monsoon.
1.1 Summary of Previous Work

We provide a brief summary of some of the important previous works on flash flooding. This is not a detailed or
comprehensive review of the literature. The broader areas of research interest are: Runoff calculation, uncertainty
(involved in multiple steps leading to flood prediction) handling, and flood depth modelling. We provide gist of
each in the discussion below.

Ponce (1996) (Ponce & Hawkins, 1996) reviewed curve number runoff method which does not consider abstractive
losses for calculation runoff. The method provides general runoff trends instead of accurate prediction and is used
widely in many countries. The objective of the research was to assess if the method has reached the maturity. The
research concluded that the method has reached maturity on accounts of acceptability and use by practicing
engineers. Though, the review clearly identified need of more accurate method for calculating runoff and further
provided challenges in doing so. Sangati et al. (2009) (Sangati & Borga, 2009) studied influence of spatial
aggregation of rainfall for catchment of different sizes (10.5 km2 to 623 km2). Extreme flood that had occurred on
29 August 2003 in eastern Italian Alps was considered for the case study. Dimensionless parameter which was ratio
of rainfall resolution (Lr) and characteristic basin length (Lw) was devised to quantify the effect of rainfall
aggregation. Large errors were introduced in peak discharge with increasing Lr/Lw ratio. Lr/Lw<1.0 resulted in
error 50% in peak discharge – the error was attributed to the error in volume of rainfall.

Norbiato et al. (2008) (Norbiato, Borga, Esposti, Gaume, & Anquetin, 2008) introduced flash flood guidance (FFG)
to forecast a flash flood based on a threshold. They focused on ungauged basins. They calculated performance
difference and use of time constant for soil moisture status and they found that performance differences between
FFG and use of time constant soil moisture status are very high for the parent basins and decrease with decreasing
the system accuracy. Collier (2007) (Collier, 2007) reviewed uncertainty involved in predicting various associated
events with flash flood, for example extreme climatic conditions. He highlighted difficulties involved in predicting
each step leading to flash flood but suggested that the successful outcome is still possible. He insisted on statistical
methods to be integral part of the solution. He identified the importance of predicting extreme rainfall conditions
accurately to reduce the error in flash flood prediction. He concluded that reliable prediction of flash flood 1 or 2
hour ahead would not be possible within next 10 years. Borga et al. (2011) (Borga, Anagnostou, Bloschl, &
Creutin, 2011) recognized the complexity of hydrological process leading to flash flood and uncertainty in
predictions of flash flood. HYDRATE project was undertaken to understand the complex process leading to flash
flood, improving observation strategy, and by developing new technologies. The project recommended use of local
data and local experience effectively. This implies the effective tool for sharing the experience flash flood related
experience by different communities. Further the project recommended use of available methods such as Flash
Flood Diagnostic Index (FFDI) for modelling.

Knebl et al. (2005) (Knebl, Yang, Hutchison, & Maidment, 2005) developed a model for regional scale flooding
integrating NEXRAD, GIS, and a hydrological model HEC-HMS/RAS. Major flood that had occurred during
summar of 2002 in SanAntonio River Basin, Texas, USA was chosen as a case study. HEC-HMS was used to
clculate the runoff because of excess rainfall and HEC-RAS was used to modle the unseady flow in th eriver basin.
4X4 km grid was used for developing river network modle in HEC-HMS. The study found that the HEC-RAS was
able to produce flood boundaries with reasonable accuracy – the predictions matched the flood boundary obtained
from satellite imagery. Another recent study by Demir et al. (2016) (Demir & Kisi, 2016) employed different flood
hazard mapping procedures to prepare a series of flood hazard maps corresponding diverse return periods. This can
help deciding the most appropriate course of action during an emergency storm. HEC-RAS was used to prepare
flood maps for the study region that is Mert River Basin in Turkey. Pawar et al. (2016) (Pawar, Sarup, & Mittal,
2016) attempted to study the impact of floods in Pune city. They use Arc Hydro tool for analysis. The flow in the
river was calculated in ad hoc manner using discharge from nearby dam Khadkawasala. Other data used for
assessing the impact is missing in the report.

The structure of the paper is as follows: Section 2 describes the study area. Section 3 summarizes the important data
used in the development of the model. Section 4 outlines the results of the modelling exercise. We close the
discussion with concluding remarks in Section 5.

2 STUDY AREA

Pune, is the second largest city in Maharashtra, India. Its area is 700 km2 with a population of 3.1 million [2011]. It
is located 560 m above mean sea level and is the part of Deccan plateau region of India. It is surrounded by the
Sahyadri mountain ranges. The city stands on recent age alluvium as the top layer and Deccan trap basalt (Upper
Cretaceous to Eocene) with weathered, fractured, jointed and vesicular basalts below the alluvium layer. The soil
type is slightly deep, well-drained, fine and calcareous. The lands are gently sloping with moderate erosion.
Delhi

India

Figure 1: Location of Pune City (Please note the map is for the illustration purpose)

Pune is a cultural, educational, and manufacturing hub of Maharashtra, Western India and has nearly doubled its
size during last decade (from ~3.7 million to ~5.05 million) (Office of the Registrar General & Census
Commissioner, India, 2011-1). The uncontrolled growth has adversely impacted urban environment and quality of
life in general. Impervious surface has been increased by ~50 % during the period from 2001 to 2014 resulting in
~5.00 % loss of natural drainage in Pune city. Estimated increase in runoff in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)
and Pimpari-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation administrative boundary over the decade is in the order of 87 %
(Yadav & Deshpande, 2016). Pune experiences 20-30 increase in ambient air temperatures than its immediate
surroundings on an average and 50-60 in worst cases (More, Kale, Kataria, Yadav, & Deshpande, 2015). The natural
drainage system constitute of the rivers Mula and Mutha; both rivers confluence in the central part of Pune. The
rivers Pavana and Indrayani flow through the north-western outskirts of the city. Mula, Mutha, Mula-mutha are the
major rivers which flows in the region were taken for study purpose (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Schematic Diagram Showing Dams, Rivers and Stream Gauges


Figure 3: Geomorphology of Pune Municipal Corporation and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation

3 DATA

Data as required for urban flood modelling such as rainfall data, terrain data and so on was collected from various
sources. We describe below the details in each section respectively.

3.1 Rainfall Data

We obtained the rainfall data for Pune District to observe the flooding patterns since 1998. We considered the days
with heavy rainfall for the studies. Further we also gathered the days for which the rainfall was very close or
exactly as the daily average rainfall over month. For example table 1 part A displays days of maximum rainfall;
Aug. 3. Average daily rainfall for Aug. was 10 and it occurred on Aug. 9, 2016. We prepared similar tables for past
20 year data.

Table 1: Days of Maximum/Average Daily Rainfall in Pune in 2016

Part A: Maximum-Minimum day/s Part B: Average rainfall days


Date Max Date Min Date Average (mm) Average (mm)
(mm) (mm) (based on total (based on rainy
days) days)
03-Aug-16 54.6 May-16 0 10 16.32
17-Sep-16 23.9 11-Sep-16 0 09-Aug-16 9.2 (Approx.)
02-Oct-16 31.4 15-Oct-16 0 01-Aug-16 ~14.00
20-Sep-16 4.6
05-Oct-16 1.1

3.2 River Gauge Station Data

The existing base flow in the river is important part of the water mass balance equation for flood levels in the river
basin. We obtained the flow hydrograph observed at the Bund Garden River Gauging Station from 1st August 2016
to 1st September 2016.(“Government of Maharastra, Water Resources Department” 2017) The base flow at bund
garden river-gauge station is 1458 m3 /sec. Table 3 and Figure 4 show base flood flow at the mentioned river gauge
station for month of Aug. 2016.
Table 2: Flow Hydrograph of Bund-Garden River Gauging Station, Pune (Flow in cusec)

Date Flow Date Flow Date Flow Date Flow


1-Aug-16 3280 9-Aug-16 2049 17-Aug-16 4438 25-Aug-16 3280
2-Aug-16 3280 10-Aug-16 1597 18-Aug-16 4898 26-Aug-16 5438
3-Aug-16 6361 11-Aug-16 2283 19-Aug-16 3280 27-Aug-16 5438
4-Aug-16 4257 12-Aug-16 2205 20-Aug-16 3280 28-Aug-16 4359
5-Aug-16 3127 13-Aug-16 1383 21-Aug-16 3280 29-Aug-16 3978
6-Aug-16 2140 14-Aug-16 1240 22-Aug-16 2916 30-Aug-16 4898
7-Aug-16 2127 15-Aug-16 2436 23-Aug-16 2916 31-Aug-16 3819
8-Aug-16 2682 16-Aug-16 3592 24-Aug-16 3280 1-Sep-16 3280

Figure 4: Base Flow at Mula Mutha Reach

3.3 Cross-Section Data

We obtained 1-meter interval contour map of the Mula River (Figure 5, Figure 7). Contour map for Mutha River
from Khadkwasla dam to Bund-garden and Bund-garden to Mula- Mutha River was not available. For this part of
the river section flowing through the city, only the red line elevation and blue line elevation was
available(“Government of Maharastra, Water Resources Department” 2017). We used the red and blue line flood
levels, and river centre level (lowest level) prepared the cross section as required. We assumed regular interval of 1
meter in a triangular shape, we approximately derived the cross section data of Mutha and Mula-Mutha River.

Figure 5: River Cross Section 1


Figure 6: Vertical Cross Section 1

Figure 7: River Cross Section 2

Figure 8: Vertical Cross Section 2


3.4 Digital Elevation Model (DEM)

We downloaded the SRTM image for Pune City and obtained the terrain DEM (USGS). This DEM has a resolution
approx. 30 m resolution. As a result, the DEM does not reflect the intricate level changes occurring due to
urbanization. Accurate LIDAR like data is essential for the study of flash flooding in urban areas. However, it is
expensive.

3.5 Overall Procedure

HEC-RAS (Hydrologic Engineering Centre- River Analysis System) developed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
performs one dimensional steady and unsteady flow calculations. Further it determines the water surface profile for
natural and prismatic channels. The software is easily available and has precise calibration accuracy (US Army
Corps of Engineers, 2016). Flash floods primarily occur when it rains heavily on soil that has poor absorption
quality. They can also occur due to the sudden melting of glaciers or by man-made activities such as dam failures.
As these occurrences are rare in a city like Pune, we will only focus on rainfall-induced floods.

The process of prediction begins with creating a river network model in HEC-RAS. This involves creating vector
data model for river network using HEC-RAS. Further all the data related to river channel is provided in the models
created. The data includes river cross section, boundary condition for river flow and so on. Precipitation data is
entered in a tabular format in the model which is used further for calculating runoff (Figure 9).

In parallel, we calculated the area covered by impervious surfaces for Pune city using from recent Landsat data.
Supervised learning was used to classify the urban scene into different vegetation, impervious surface, and soil
classes (Yadav & Deshpande, 2015). The impervious surface was assigned the manning’s roughness coefficient as
0.053. We then calculated the runoff for each of these classes using coefficient of Manning’s n as given in the table
5 (Figure 9, 10).

With all this inputs provided to HEC-RAS model, 2D unsteady flow is run to create flood depths at different
locations in the given area. The flood model can be run step wise to further study spatio-temporal variation of
horizontal extent of the flood. 3D visualization further helps in identifying depth of water at different locations in
the given area. We identified a few important landmarks in the city to judge the flooding depths and areas affected.
Most of them were high growth region in the city which had seen rapid development in recent past.

Figure 9: Methodology of Flash Flood Prediction


Table 5: Coefficients of Manning’s n
Manning’s n Left Bank Channel Right Bank
Values 0.02 0.02 0.02
Main Channel Left Bank Right Bank
Bank Stations 2 7
Cont\Exp Contraction Expansion
Coefficient 0.1 0.3
(Steady Flow)

Figure 10: Impervious Area Coverage in 2016

4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Figure 11 shows depths of flood water calculated at different locations in the city. Aug 3 experienced maximum
rainfall in the year of 2016 in Pune city (54.6 mm, Table 1). The model was run for Aug. 3. Similarly Aug. 9
experienced near average rainfall for the month (9.2 mm, Table 1). The model was run for the Aug. 9 as well.

As can be seen, HEC-RAS prediction suggests more flooding for the day after heavy rainfall. The depth of water at
Hadpasar and Sacheti hospital were 1.47, 0.21 respectively. Hadapsar area has seen tremendous growth in recent
past and impervious surface has been increased by large margin. In addition, natural drainage in this area is also
affected because new development (Yadav & Deshpande, 2015). Further, Aug 3 represented the second day of
consecutive above average rainfall (22.9 and 54.6 mm respectively). On the other hand, average rainfall observed
receding flood water. Depth at Hadapsar was reduced by ~50% than the maximum rainfall day.

Overall, the estimated water depths at various locations in Pune city indicated moderate flooding in isolated pockets
of the city. For above average rainfall conditions on 2 consecutive days (Aug. 2, 2016 - 22.9 mm, Aug. 3 2016-54.6
mm) water depths of ~1 m was estimated in a few low-lying areas.

A B
Figure 11: Depth of Water in Pune City at Different Location for a) Aug. 3, and b) Aug. 9, 2016
5 CONCLUDING REMARKS

HEC-RAS was used effectively for predicting water depths, because of heavy rains, at various locations in Pune.
The exercise is very data intensive and required detailed terrain model and channel cross section model as an input.
Impervious surfaces can be effectively calculated from remotely sensed data. GIS/HEC-RAS provides important set
of tools integrating the geospatial data for predicting urban flood and further of assessing vulnerability of the urban
areas. To extend these studies for providing vulnerability assessment and mitigation plans, additional inputs about
the characteristics of the urban areas are required. These can be gathered using conventional surveying or by remote
sensing more effectively.

6 REFERENCES

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