CAHS Scientist Publishes on Flooding Generation

With increasing population and urbanization, flooding is a serious problem for public and livestock safety as well as for crop and natural resources protection. Hydrologists and water resource experts are called upon to shed light on flood occurrence, its frequencies, and magnitudes and more importantly how to mitigate and adapt to it. Flooding and extreme rainfall events are occurring more often in recent years even in areas historically known for their low rainfall, e.g. West-Texas, including a large part of the Hill Country, and semi-arid locations across the globe such as parts of the Middle East.

Almouatz ElHassen, a post-doctoral scholar and a member of the Natural Resources and Environmental System, has just published a manuscript on the use of hydrological models to investigate the impact of urbanization on the surface runoff generation and spatial distribution of flooding in Hafr Al Batin, Saudi Arabia. The city is located in a very arid catchment. Flooding of the city is influenced by the presence of three major tributaries that join the main channel in and around the heavily urbanized area.

Results of the work revealed that 85% of the flooding was generated in the urbanized portion of the catchments for the simulated flood. Distributed model simulations demonstrate that flooding in the city is driven primarily by topography rather that overbank flow in the main channel. A well designed urban drainage network might be needed to prevent flooding of residential areas and streets. This information is important if the city officials want to implement flood mitigation measures. Recommended mitigation measures include the establishment of large detention basins outside the city on the main channel and Northwest and South streams can help mitigate flooding caused by extreme events.

ElHassen is using the same hydrological model in this study to work on joint efforts between CAHS’ Water Team members and the West Gulf River Forecast Center-National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to understand the impact of land use changes in the Texas Hill Country and extreme events on flooding. Part of this work will be discussed by ElHassen in the CAHS Seminar Series.

Dr. Ali Fares


Ali Fares, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Director, Cooperative Agricultural Research Center
(936) 261-5019