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Anatomy Of An Urban Flood

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Engineering Economy Frontiers

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.203.1 - 10.203.12



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Paper Authors

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Ahmet Zeytinci

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Philip Brach

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3542


Philip L. Brach, Ahmet Zeytinci

University of the District of Columbia Washington, D.C.


Due to the scarcity of land for development in urban areas, more and more land which was once open space with trees and ground cover is being developed into residential and commercial properties. This phenomenon is having a deleterious effect on existing properties and storm drainage systems. The development is changing the character of urban hydrology.

Development is reducing the tree canopy and larger residential and commercial buildings are increasing the percentage of land area impervious to run-off. These two major factors have adversely impacted urban hydrology. They have increased the amount of runoff to be handled by existing storm-water drainage systems and because of this the existing infrastructure has become inadequate to handle normal storm runoff. In the case of unusual rainfall the results are catastrophic. The inability to carry off excessive rainfall results in serious flooding.

This paper takes the reader through the thought processes involved in the investigation, analysis and design of alternative solutions for the remediation of an urban flood that resulted in substantial monetary loss (over $50k) and the loss of priceless personal family heir-looms to one urban family. This “Anatomy” of an Urban Flood briefly discusses the many facets involved in arriving at an acceptable engineering solution, including the engineering (hydrologic and hydraulic) considerations, the social, economic, political and legal aspects of the problem. The primary focus of the paper is on an innovative approach to assigning value to the intangibles associated with the problem.


What investment can or should an individual home owner make to protect his/her property against the ravages of flood damage? What are the benefits to be derived from various solutions to solve the problem of urban runoff? How do we assign a monetary value to the loss of personal items with little or no intrinsic value but priceless in the eye of the owner? What is the value of alleviating the apprehension caused by the fear of future damage due to the potential of flooding?

This paper will explore potential answers to these questions through the “Anatomy of an Urban Flood.” Civil Engineering students and faculty at UDC were engaged in the study of an actual

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Zeytinci, A., & Brach, P. (2005, June), Anatomy Of An Urban Flood Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15561

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