Non-uniform overland flow-infiltration model for roadside swales

María García-Serrana, John S. Gulliver, John L. Nieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


There is a need to quantify the hydrologic performance of vegetated roadside swales (drainage ditches) as stormwater control measures (SCMs). To quantify their infiltration performance in both the side slope and the channel of the swale, a model has been developed for coupling a Green-Ampt-Mein-Larson (GAML) infiltration submodel with kinematic wave submodels for both overland flow down the side slope and open channel flow for flow in the ditch. The coupled GAML submodel and overland flow submodel has been validated using data collected in twelve simulated runoff tests in three different highways located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, MN. The percentage of the total water infiltrated into the side slope is considerably greater than into the channel. Thus, the side slope of a roadside swale is the main component contributing to the loss of runoff by infiltration and the channel primarily conveys the water that runs off the side slope, for the typical design found in highways. Finally, as demonstrated in field observations and the model, the fraction of the runoff/rainfall infiltrated (Vi) into the roadside swale appears to increase with a dimensionless saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks), which is a function of the saturated hydraulic conductivity, rainfall intensity, and dimensions of the swale and contributing road surface. For design purposes, the relationship between Vi and Ks can provide a rough estimate of the fraction of runoff/rainfall infiltrated with the few essential parameters that appear to dominate the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-599
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The writers are grateful to the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Local Road Research Board for funding this research under Contract No. 99008-97, with Barbara Loida as Technical Liaison. J.L. Nieber's effort on this project was partially supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch/Multistate project 12-059.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Infiltration
  • Model
  • Overland flow
  • Roadside drainage ditch
  • Stormwater control measure
  • Swale


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