Evaluation of the standard design flood method in selected basins in South Africa
CITATION: Gericke, J. & Du Plessis, K. 2012. Evaluation of the standard design flood method in selected basins in South Africa. Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, 54(2):2-14.
The original publication is available at http://www.scielo.org.za
Design flood estimations display relatively wide confidence bands of uncertainty around all estimates of flood magnitude-frequency relationships. Taking cognisance of this, and the fact that most of the available design flood estimation methods in South Africa were developed in the 1970s and have not been updated since, led to the development of the Standard Design Flood (SDF) method (Alexander 2002a; 2002b; 2003). In this study, the SDF method was evaluated by establishing the accuracy of the regionalised SDF runoff coefficients, taking both the areal extent and homogeneous hydrological catchment responses into consideration. The SDF runoff coefficients were evaluated, calibrated and verified at a quaternary catchment level in SDF basin 9 (primary study area) and in 19 of the other 29 SDF basins in South Africa (secondary study areas) by establishing catchment parameters and evaluating the ratios between the results obtained through the SDF method and probabilistic analysis. The results showed that the original SDF method overestimated the magnitude and frequency (return period) of flood peaks in all the basins under consideration, while the verification results confirmed that the calibrated/verified SDF method, based on quaternary runoff coefficients, significantly improves the accuracy in comparison with the probabilistic analysis results. The result confirmed that the probabilistic-based approach of the original SDF method does not have the ability to overcome the deficiencies evident in the other design flood estimation techniques used in South Africa. Revision of the runoff coefficients at a quaternary catchment level is proposed.