A risk-based approach to the design of rural water supply catchments across Western Australia

Matthew Hipsey, M. Sivapalan, M. Menabde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The manner in which both the seasonal and regional variations in storm duration, intensity and inter-storm period manifest in the runoff response of agricultural water supply catchments is investigated. High-resolution rainfall data were analysed for a network of 17 raingauges located across the semiarid (200–500 mm year−1) agricultural districts of southwest Western Australia. Seasonal variations in mean storm duration, mean rainfall intensity and mean inter-storm period were modelled using simple periodic functions whose parameters were then also regressed with geographic and climatic indices to create spatial fields for each of these statistics. Based on these mean values, a continuous rainfall time series can be synthesized for any location within the region, with the rainfall depth within each storm being downscaled to 5-min time steps using a bounded random cascade model. Runoff from six different catchment surface treatments (“engineered” catchments) was simulated using a conceptual water-balance model, validated using rainfall—runoff data from an experimental field site. The expected yield of the various catchment types at any other location within the study region is then simulated using the above rainfall—runoff model and synthetic rainfall and potential evaporation time series under a range of climatic settings representative of regional climate variation. The resulting coupled model can be used to estimate the catchment area required to yield an acceptable volume of runoff for any location and dam capacity, at a specified reliability level, thus providing a tool for water resource managers to design engineered catchments for water supply. Although the model presented is specific for Western Australia's southwest region, the methodology itself is applicable to other locations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-727
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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