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Culvert Design using HEC-RAS


Problem Statement

Hydraulic structures are needed along rivers, channels, and other bodies of water in order to control, divert, or measure the flow of water. Some hydraulic structures include dams, weirs, bridges, and culverts. This module will focus specifically on culverts. Culverts are used to provide a path for the natural flow of water which has otherwise been interrupted. Culverts can be found under roads and highways. Some common shapes are circular or box which can be made out of congregated metal or concrete respectively. The flow through a culvert is a function of variables such as roughness, slope, length, and the cross-sectional dimensions. Improper design in any of these areas can lead to failure. The objective of this module is to develop skills to help prevent these failures.

Module Overview

In this module, you will learn how to build and analyze culvert structures using HEC-RAS. The first section of this module will teach you how to use and navigate HEC-RAS through a tutorial. This tutorial will be guided by an idealized problem on culvert design and will require you to run a given model in HEC-RAS in order to analyze and compare three different conditions: the original channel, a current structure, and a new proposed structure. These steps will help you build the skills needed for the second section of the course, which will include culvert design for a real watershed in Southern Louisiana called Coulee Mine. You will use tools such the Stroud Water Research Center's website, WikiWatershed, and the DOTD Hydraulics Manual to obtain peak discharge information for the Coulee Mine watershed. You will be required to build and analyze your own culvert structure for the project.

Topics Covered

- Modeling one-dimensional Steady Flow in HEC-RAS

- Culvert Design

- Watershed Properties

- Peak Flow



Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, you should be able to describe and implement the steps involved in:

designing a culvert for a given design storm, analyzing steady water surface profiles, delineating a watershed, and estimating rural and urban peak flows for a given watershed.

This will be accomplished through activities within each section. Results from each activity will be recorded in specified results templates. The results templates for each activity can be found at the beginning of each activity. The results templates are organized such that results from one activity can easily be used in successive activities.

Suggested Implementation Mode

The intent of this module is to provide a real-world case study in three sections. The first section can be used to allow students to become familiar with the HEC-RAS software through a simple tutorial. The second section guides the students in setting up the HEC-RAS model for analysis. The third section requires more involvement by the student to generate their own design for a specific scenario.

Course Authors

Robert Miller, PhD, PE

University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Contact:

Laura Manuel, Undergraduate Student

University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Contact:

Lani Orgeron, Undergraduate Student

University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Contact:

Jenny Byrd, Graduate Research Assistant

University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Contact:

Emad Habib, PhD, PE

University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Contact:

Target Audience

Junior/Senior Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering Courses

Tools Needed

Computer with access to Internet and free HEC-RAS software.

Expected Total Hours

A student could expect to complete this module with approximately 6 work hours.

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