Investigating the Performance of One- and Two-dimensional Flood Models in a Channelized River Network: A Case Study of the Obion River System

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Alfred J Kalyanapu, Tigstu TSIGE Dullo, Joseph C Thornton and Lucas Austin Auld, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN, United States
Obion River, is located in the northwestern Tennessee region, and discharges into the Mississippi River. In the past, the river system was largely channelized for agricultural purposes that resulted in increased erosion, loss of wildlife habitat and downstream flood risks. These impacts are now being slowly reversed mainly due to wetland restoration. The river system is characterized by a large network of “loops” around the main channels that hold water either from excess flows or due to flow diversions. Without data on each individual channel, levee, canal, or pond it is not known where the water flows from or to. In some segments along the river, the natural channel has been altered and rerouted by the farmers for their irrigation purposes. Satellite imagery can aid in identifying these features, but its spatial coverage is temporally sparse. All the alterations that have been done to the watershed make it difficult to develop hydraulic models, which could predict flooding and droughts. This is especially true when building one-dimensional (1D) hydraulic models compared to two-dimensional (2D) models, as the former cannot adequately simulate lateral flows in the floodplain and in complex terrains. The objective of this study therefore is to study the performance of 1D and 2D flood models in this complex river system, evaluate the limitations of 1D models and highlight the advantages of 2D models. The study presents the application of HEC-RAS and HEC-2D models developed by the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), a division of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The broader impacts of this study is the development of best practices for developing flood models in channelized river systems and in agricultural watersheds.