Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Weber, Larry

Second Advisor

Bradley, Allen

First Committee Member

Villarini, Gabriele


This thesis evaluates the effectiveness of several flood mitigation strategies for reducing peak discharges in the Upper Cedar River Watershed located in northeast Iowa. Triggered by record flooding in June 2008, the Iowa Watersheds Project was formed to evaluate and construct projects for flood reduction. The Upper Cedar was selected as a pilot watershed and a hydrologic assessment was performed to better understand its flood hydrology. Evaluation of different flood mitigation strategies was performed with HEC-HMS, a lumped parameter surface water model. The hydrologic model development is described and the model applications are analyzed.

The HMS model was used in several ways to better understand the flood hydrology of the Upper Cedar River Watershed. First, the runoff potential of the basin was assessed to identify the primary runoff generation mechanisms. Areas with agricultural land use and moderately to poorly draining soils had the highest runoff potential. Following, the model was used to evaluate the impact of several flood mitigation strategies - increased infiltration through land use changes, increased infiltration through soil improvements, and added storage in the watershed to hold runoff temporarily and reduce downstream flood peaks - for different flood frequency events (the 10-, 25-, 50-, and 100-year, 24-hour design rain storms) and the June 2008 flood. Although each scenario is hypothetical and simplified, they do provide benchmarks for the types of reductions physically possible and the effectiveness of strategies relative to one another. In order to reduce the impacts of flooding in the Upper Cedar, a combination of projects that enhance infiltration and/or store excess runoff will be necessary.


Flooding, Flood mitigation, HEC-HMS, Hydrology, Watershed modeling


xiv, 213 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 211-213).


Copyright 2014 Chad Drake