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Dumbing Down Hydrology

TASA ID: 651

This article was originally published in the July/August 2016 issue of Stormh2o.com.

Why are we dumbing down hydrology for engineers? When I say, "dumbing down," what I mean is that we (the stormwater profession) are telling engineers to use pre-computer, simple methods and techniques to size stormwater facilities.  I recently asked a noted, national stormwater expert this question, and his response was (to paraphrase him), "We need to keep things simple because 99% of stormwater design is being done by a general civil engineer using somewhat dated models, or simple automations of older methods, for whom the stormwater design is about 10% of what he does." That may be true, but it is hardly an appropriate excuse.  Today in the United States, we spend billions of dollars on stormwater management. For that much money, isn't it important that we use the most accurate tools and methods available? So, why in most parts of the country are we still using pre-computer, slide rule hydrology to do our calculations?

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