Assessing the performance of regional flood frequency analysis methods in South Africa

  • JJ Nathanael Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa
  • JC Smithers 1. Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa; 2. Bioresources Engineering, School of Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa; 3. JG Afrika (Pty) Ltd, 6 Pin Oak Avenue, Hilton, Pietermaritzburg, 3201, South Africa; 4. National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia
  • MJC Horan Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa
Keywords: regional flood frequency analysis (RFFA), South Africa

Abstract

In engineering and flood hydrology, the estimation of a design flood associates the magnitude of a flood with a level of exceedance, or return period, for a given site. The use of a regional flood frequency analysis (RFFA) approach improves the accuracy and reliability of estimates of design floods. However, no RFFA method is currently widely used in South Africa, despite a number of RFFA studies having been undertaken in Africa and which include South Africa in their study areas. Hence, the performance of the current RFFA approaches needs to be assessed in order to determine the best approaches to use and to determine if a new RFFA approach needs to be developed for use in South Africa. Through a review of the relevant literature it was found that the Meigh et al. (1997) method, the Mkhandi et al. (2000) method, the Görgens (2007) Joint Peak-Volume (JPV) method and the Haile (2011) method are available for application in a nationwide study. The results of the study show that the Haile method generally performs better than the other RFFA methods; however, it also consistently underestimates design floods. Due to the poor overall performance of the RFFA methods assessed, it is recommended that a new RFFA method be developed for application in design flood practice in South Africa.

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Published
2018-07-31
Section
Research paper