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Building Roof Runoff with Downspouts

Overview
URS contracted with Riada Engineering (FLO-2D Software) to enhance the FLO-2D model rainfall runoff
from buildings. This effort was sponsored by Arizona Public Service for flood simulation applications to
nuclear power plants. The scope of work consisted of writing and editing FLO-2D program code to
compute rainfall runoff from a building roof, including rainfall storage with parapet walls and
downspout discharge. The model enhancements are described in this document.
Buildings are defined in the FLO-2D model by Area Reduction Factors (ARF values). An ARF = 1
assignment is a completely blocked grid element that may represent a portion of a building interior. A
completely blocked element will not receive surface water discharge from contiguous grid elements.
When the building rainfall switch is off (IRAINBUILDING = 0) no rainfall runoff is computed from the
building elements where ARF = 1. It is assumed that the rainfall on the building enters the storm drain
system and is lost to the model. If the IRAINBUILDING switch = 1 on, then water volume on the
building roof can be routed to other interior building elements (ARF = 1) and off the roof to ground
elements. Surface water overland flow is not allowed to enter the building footprint. A companion
document Rainfall Runoff from Buildings describes how the rainfall runoff was routed across and off
the roof before implementing the parapet wall and downspout enhancements.
The objective of these FLO-2D modifications is to add detail and accuracy to the prediction of building
rainfall storage and runoff. The roof rainfall runoff will be stored by short parapet walls, routed to
downspouts, and discharged out of the downspout using an inlet control stage discharge rating table. In
addition, the parapet walls represented by levee elements in the FLO-2D model can be overtopped with
the overflow discharge computed by a weir equation. Levees representing the parapet walls are
simulated as vertical walls obstructing one or more of the eight flow directions in a FLO-2D grid element.

Revisions to the FLO-2D Code to Enhancement the Building Roof Runoff


The modifications to the FLO-2D model to enable roof parapet walls to be overtopped and downspout
discharge to be computed involved removing the constraints associated with the blocked building
elements (ARF = 1). The FLO-2D levee overtopping weir discharge could not be shared with completely
blocked elements. This was also true for hydraulic structures that represent the downspout inlet
controlled discharge. These constraints caused volume conservation errors when attempting to model
these features. The code revisions were relatively straightforward and involved only three subroutines.

Creating Building Roof Runoff in the FLO-2D Model


The procedure for generating basic building rainfall runoff is described. The process includes assigning
building elements, checking and editing the roof elevations. After opening a FLO-2D model in the Grid
Developer System (GDS), the buildings can be assigned by selecting grid elements and assigning ARF
values equal to one (blocked element) or some decimal fraction representing the portion of the grid
element representing the building. Selecting cells can be accomplished using point and click commands,
a polygon outline or a shape file interpolation. These procedures are described in the GDS manual or in
on-line help dialog boxes. A typical building assignment is shown in Figure 1. Both completely blocked
elements (gray cells) and partially blocked elements (yellow) are used to define the building in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Building Represented by ARF Values


(Building on Left; ARF Value Coverage on Right; ARF = 1 gray with orange circles, ARF < 1 in yellow)

The building location selected for this project is shown in Figure 2. The red lines in these figures are
levees and represent a parapet wall surrounding the entire building roof. On the project building, the
levee elements encompass the blocked building (ARF = 1) elements. The completely blocked elements
represent the building roof. The roof grid element elevations are usually assigned a ground elevation.
These building elevations can be edited to represent the roof. The roof elements can be selected
together and assigned a uniform elevation representing a flat roof (Figure 3). The parapet wall is
simulated by selecting the appropriate grid elements and assigning the levee grid element direction and
crest (wall elevation) as shown in the Figure 4 levee edit dialog box. Attention must be paid to the
selection all the potential levee obstruction flow directions to completely contain the rainfall storage on
the building roof. The parapet wall is shown as the red levee in Figure 3 representing the roof
boundary. The roof elevation was assigned as approximately 20 ft higher than the ground elevation.
This data base is sufficient to simulate rainfall storage on a flat roof. This is one of the test simulations.

Figure 2. Project Building Location (in blue oval)

Figure 3. Building Roof Element Elevation Editing

Figure 4. Grid Element Levee Crest Elevation Editing

A sloped roof can be established by modifying the roof elevations. Individual grid element elevations
can be edited by double clicking a given cell and using the elevation field (Figure 5). Grid element
elevations can be reset in corners and along the roof borders to establish some cornerstone elevations
for further editing.

Figure 5. Grid Element Elevation Editing

To establish a sloped roof, select a line of grid elements between two cornerstone elements with known
roof elevations, then choose the street elevation editor (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Roof Element Elevation Editing Command

Select the Elevation Adjustments Tab shown in Figure 7 below. This will activate a dialog box window
which will enable a linear slope interpolation between the two selected cornerstone elements (Figure
8). Figure 9 displays the roof element elevations prior to interpolation. Click on the Assign button to
complete the interpolation of the roof cell elevations between the cornerstone elements and save the
results.

Figure 7. Roof Element Elevation Editing Tab

Figure 8. Selecting the Two Cornerstone Grid Elements to Interpolate the Roof Slope

Figure 8. Graphic Display of the Roof Element Elevations between the Two Cornerstone Cells

Figure 9. Completed Roof Element Elevation Slope Interpolation

The downspout discharge can be simulated as a hydraulic structure identifying the inlet node on the
roof and the outlet node on the ground and assigning an inlet control rating table. The inlet control
rating table can be based on orifice flow using the equation:
Q = C * A * (2.*g*DEPTH)0.5
where:
C = coefficient that ranges from 0.62 to 0.72
A = flow area of the opening
g = acceleration due to gravity (32.2 fps or 9.81 m/s)
DEPTH = flow depth on orifice (cell flow depth)
The hydraulic structure data file is organized as follows:
S Downspoutname 0 1 22365 21991 0 0 0 0
T
0
0
T
0.25
1.0
T
0.5
2.0
T
1
3.5
T
5
5.5

In the S-line above, the data includes a downspout name, floodplain or channel element (floodplain = 0),
rating curve or table (rating table = 1), inlet and outlet cell number, and 4 additional controls that not
required. The rating table assignment should begin with zero depth and zero discharge and the
remaining T-lines are depth and discharge can be based on the above orifice equation. This data can be
enter graphically in the GDS as shown in Figures 11 and 12.

Figure 10. Downspout Hydraulic Structure as Brown Elements in the Upper Right Corner

The hydraulic structure editor dialog window for the downspout inlet and outlets shown in Figure 11 is
displayed in Figure 12. Note that the downspout inlet and outlet elements do not have to be
contiguous. Any number of downspouts can be simulated in any location on the building roof.

Figure 11. Hydraulic Structure Dialog Box with Entered Downspout Data

Verification Testing of the Building Roof Runoff Enhancements


The building runoff enhancements were tested in two projects. Since both projects showed an identical
response on different scales, only the results of the small scale, more detailed project will be presented.
Several tests were developed to verify the roof runoff computations. These include:

Rainfall accumulation on a flat roof


Rainfall runoff movement on sloped roof
Parapet wall overtopping
Downspout discharge to the ground

In the first test, three inches of rain is applied to the project in two hours. The project has buildings,
walls, infiltration and storm drains. To focus on the building with the assigned downspout, the storm
drain component was turned off. Only the building discussed in this document will be reviewed. The
simulation was terminated after the rainfall ended after two hours. The flat roof elevation was 1280.00
and after 2 hours, the computed final roof flow depths results in a uniform water surface elevation of
1280.25 on all the elements since there is no outlet (Figure 13 using the FLO-2D Maxplot map program).
The sloped roof test is designed to predict the rainfall runoff flow to the downspout. The downspout is
in grid element 22365 (upper right corner of the building NE) and the entire roof slopes to this location.
Most of the roof has a slope of 0.001 or 0.02 ft per 20 ft grid element. The slope in the final few grid
elements in the NE corner of the roof are a little steeper. In this case, the parapet walls are one foot
high and since the maximum water surface elevation does not exceed 1281, there is no flow
overtopping the parapet walls. The maximum water surface elevation is shown in Figure 14. Note that
all the roof maximum water surface elevations are equal, but the maximum flow depths vary with the
roof elevation and the deepest depth is predicted at the downspout element. The downspout outlet
element 21990 has the same water surface elevation and small depth in both simulations.

Downspout Inlet

Downspout Outlet

Grid Element
Final Flow Depth
Final WS Elevation

Figure 13. Total Rainfall (3 inches) Accumulated on a Flat Roof


Cells 22365 and 21990 will be the downspout inlet and outlet respectively

Figure 14. Maximum Flow Depth and Water Surface Elevation on a Sloped Roof
(Compare the Inlet and Outlet Maximum WS Elevations )
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In the third simulation, the parapet wall was lowered by 0.75 ft to 1280.25 in the LEVEE.DAT file for the
downspout inlet grid element 22365. During the simulation the maximum water surface elevation
exceeds the parapet wall elevation for the downspout inlet element (22365 NE flow direction 5) and
overtops the wall (Figure 15). Compare this grid element maximum water surface elevation and flow
depth in Figure 14 and note that they are lower because the parapet wall is overtopped and some
rainfall storage is discharged to the ground. Any number of parapet wall cells (levee elements and the
blocked direction) can be overtopped.

Figure 15. Maximum Flow Depth and Water Surface Elevation on a Sloped Roof
with Parapet Wall Being Overtop
The overtopping discharge is reported below from the file LEVOVERTOP.OUT. The discharge is reported
as negative representing flow out of the grid element.
LEVEE OVERTOPPING DISCHARGE (CFS OR CMS): POSITIVE DISCHARGE REPRESENTS INFLOW TO NODE
LEVEE ELEMENTS WITH NO OVERTOP DISCHARGE ARE NOT REPORTED
DISCHARGE IS REPORTED BY DIRECTION
GRID ELEMENT
22365

PEAK Q

TIME
3.30
3.40
3.50
3.60
3.70
3.80
3.90
4.00
4.10
4.20
4.30
4.40
4.50
4.60
4.70
4.80
4.90
4.92
5.00
5.10
5.20
5.30
5.40
5.50
5.60
5.70
5.80
5.90
6.00

TOTAL DISCHARGE
-0.02
-0.06
-0.09
-0.17
-0.23
-0.36
-0.54
-0.70
-0.69
-0.72
-0.74
-0.75
-0.75
-0.75
-0.76
-0.78
-0.78
-0.79
-0.78
-0.77
-0.74
-0.72
-0.72
-0.72
-0.70
-0.72
-0.68
-0.66
-0.65

NE

SE

SW

NW

0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00

0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00

0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
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0.00

0.00
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0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00

-0.02
-0.06
-0.09
-0.17
-0.23
-0.36
-0.54
-0.70
-0.69
-0.72
-0.74
-0.75
-0.75
-0.75
-0.76
-0.78
-0.78

0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00

0.00
0.00
0.00
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0.00
0.00
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0.00
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0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
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0.00

0.00
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0.00
0.00
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0.00
0.00

-0.78
-0.77
-0.74
-0.72
-0.72
-0.72
-0.70
-0.72
-0.68
-0.66
-0.65

0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
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0.00

0.00
0.00
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0.00

0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00

The final test simulation combines the sloped roof with a downspout in grid element 22365. The inlet
(red oval) maximum water surface is lowered by the downspout water discharge as shown in Figure 16.
The downspout outlet element 21990 (blue oval) has an increased maximum water surface when
compared with Figures 14 and 15.
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Figure 16. Maximum Flow Depth and Water Surface Elevation on a Sloped Roof
with a Downspout
The discharge out of the downspout is reported below from the HYDROSTRUCT.OUT file.
STRUCTURE OUTFLOW DISCHARGE
INFLOW AND OUTFLOW DISCHARGE MAY BE DIFFERENT IF STRUCTURE IS A LONG CULVERT OR IF OUTFLOW COMBINES MULTIPLE CULVERTS
OUTFLOW DISCHARGE IS REPORTED AS NEGATIVE
FLOODPLAIN GRID ELEMENTS

TIME (HRS)

THE MAXIMUM DISCHARGE FOR: Downspout


0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
0.60
0.70
0.80
0.90
1.00
1.10
1.20
1.30
1.40
1.50
1.60
1.70
1.80
1.90
2.00
2.10
2.20
2.30
2.40
2.50
2.60
2.70
2.80
2.90
3.00
3.10
3.20
3.30
3.40
3.50
3.60
3.70
3.80
3.90
4.00
4.10
4.20
4.30
4.40
4.50
4.60
4.70
4.80
4.90
5.00
5.10
5.20
5.30
5.40
5.50
5.60
5.70
5.80
5.90
6.00

DISCHARGE (CFS OR CMS)

STRUCTURE NO.
1 IS:
INFLOW NODE: 22365
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.04
0.07
0.08
0.10
0.13
0.14
0.14
0.15
0.15
0.16
0.16
0.17
0.16
0.16
0.16
0.17
0.17
0.22
0.27
0.34
0.46
0.51
0.64
0.76
0.83
0.86
0.89
0.91
0.91
0.91
0.92
0.93
0.94
0.94
0.93
0.91
0.88
0.87
0.86
0.86
0.85
0.85
0.82
0.79

0.94 AT TIME:
OUTFLOW NODE: 21990
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
-0.04
-0.07
-0.08
-0.10
-0.13
-0.14
-0.14
-0.15
-0.15
-0.16
-0.16
-0.17
-0.16
-0.16
-0.16
-0.17
-0.17
-0.22
-0.27
-0.34
-0.46
-0.51
-0.64
-0.76
-0.83
-0.86
-0.89
-0.91
-0.91
-0.91
-0.92
-0.93
-0.94
-0.94
-0.93
-0.91
-0.88
-0.87
-0.86
-0.86
-0.85
-0.85
-0.82
-0.79

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4.91

Summary
The FLO-2D model simulation of rainfall runoff from building roofs has been modified to allow parapet
walls (levees) to store rainfall water, enable the parapet walls to be overtopped and discharge storm off
the roof through a downspout. The FLO-2D code was edited to create these enhancements and a new
executable program was compiled. The primary revisions involved allowing component interaction with
the completely blocked grid elements representing the buildings (ARF = 1). The three new tools were
tested extensively with a flat and sloped roof to validate that:

Rainfall was accurately predicted to accumulate on a flat roof;


Rainfall runoff was predicted to flow to the lowest cell on a slope roof;
Rainfall runoff flowed to the lowest roof cell and overtopped a low parapet wall;
Roof storage was discharged through a downspout located at the lowest roof cell.

There are no required data file revisions to use these new building rainfall tools.

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