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Bridge Hydrology

Data to be collected

 Information about the low water level, highest flood level , slope of
surface of water, flood velocity and discharge of river etc.
 The various aspects of estimating the flood discharge are being
dealt in subsequent slides
Estimation of flood discharge

One of the essential data for the bridge design is fair assessment of the maximum flow
which could be expected to occur at the bridge site during the design period of the bridge.

Following are the methods for determining Design Discharge

• By an empirical formula method.

• By a rational method.
• By the area velocity method.
• By unit hydrograph method.

Empirical Method
 Thisis an indirect method of determining the maximum flood discharge, in this
method maximum flood discharge is determined by an empirical formula in
which the area catchment or basin is mainly considered.

Rational Method
Indirect method:This method is applicable for determination of flood discharge for small culverts only.

The runoff, Q = A Io λ

Where, Q = maximum flood discharge in m^3 per second

A = catchment area in km^2
Io = peak intensity of rainfall in mm per hour
λ = a function depending on the characteristics of the catchment in producing the peak run-off
= 0.56 Pf/( tc +1)
tc = concentration time in hours
= (0.87 x L^3/H)^0.385
L = distance from the critical point to the bridge site in kilometres
(Length of overland flow in Kilometre from critical point to mouth of drain)
H = difference in elevation between the critical point and the bridge site in meters
P = coefficient of run-off for the catchment characteristics, from Table 2.1
f = a factor to correct for the variation of intensity of rainfall Io over the area of the catchment, from
Table 2.2
Area-Velocity method

The area-velocity method based on the hydraulic characteristics of the stream is probably the most reliable among
the methods for determining for determining the flood discharge.

Where, Q = discharge in m^3 per second
A = wetted area in m^2
V = velocity of flow in meters per second
= 1/n x R^0.67 x S^0.5
n = coefficient of roughness
S = slope of stream
R = hydraulic mean depth in meters
= wetted area in m^2/wetted perimeter in meters
Unit Hydrograph Method

A unit hydrograph is defined as the runoff hydrograph representing the

unit depth of direct runoff as a result of rainfall excess occurring
uniformly over the basin and at a uniform rate for a specified duration.
The area under a unit hydrograph represent the volume of rainfall
excess due to a rain of 1mm over the entire basin.
 To avoid any possibility of traffic striking any structural part clearance are

 The horizontal clearance should be the clear width and the vertical clearance the
clear height, available for the passage of vehicular traffic as shown in the
clearance diagram

 For a bridge constructed on a horizontal curve with superelevated road surface,

the horizontal clearance should be increased on the side of the inner kerb by an
amount equal to 5m multiplied by the superelevation ( as per cl of
IRC: 5 – 2015)

 The minimum vertical clearance should be measured from the superelevated

level of the roadway. 15
Scour Depth
 The process of cutting or deeping of river bed due to action of water is called
 When the velocity of stream water exceeds the limiting velocity it causes
vertical cutting of the river bed, which is known as scouring.
 It differs from erosions which causes horizontal widening of the river bed.

Determination of Normal Scour Depth:

 The normal scour depth is the depth of water in the middle of stream when it
is carrying the maximum flood discharge.
 Scour depth of alluvial streams:

Determination of Maximum Scour Depth :
 Maximum scour depth is the depth of water at the round obstruction to the
flow of water when the river carries maximum flood discharge.
 It usually occurs at bends, pier noses and on the under stream noses of guide
banks provided for a bridge.
 Therefore, for the safety of the bridge foundations it becomes essential to
estimate the maximum scour depth correctly and design the bridge
foundations accordingly.
 As per recommendations, the maximum depth of scour may be taken as
 In case of a bridge on a straight reach of the stream having single span, the
maximum depth of scour should be taken as 1.5 times the normal scour depth of
 For bridge sites on curves or where cross current exists or when the bridge is a
multi-span structure, the maximum depth of scour should be taken as 2 times the
normal depth of scour.
 In case of bridge causing construction, the maximum scour depth should not be less
than the value obtained by the following equations 22
Prevention of Scouring
 The site of the bridge should have stream line flow.
 At the site of bridge, the river bed soil should be such as to resist the
maximum velocity of water.
 Sufficient waterway should be provided under the bridge so that velocity of
water may not exceed the limit after which scouring occurs.
 The shape of the piers should be designed in such a way that it may not cause
eddies and currents in water.
 The river bed on upstream side, downstream side and the portion under the
bridge should be properly pitched with beams and long stones.
 In the case of sandy beds, sheet piling may be done on under stream and
downstream sides of the bridge to prevent scouring.
 Piles may also be driven in river bed, where scouring is likely to occur.