Effective water table depth to describe initial conditions prior to storm rainfall in humid regions

Peter A. Troch, François P. De Troch, Wilfried Brutsaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


A physically meaningful technique to determine the effective depth to the water table, as a measure of the initial storage capacity of a basin is developed. The estimation of the initial storage capacity prior to a given flood event is essential to obtain useful results from storm runoff prediction models based on saturation excess overland flow. It is shown how this effective depth to the water table can be related to streamflow measurements at the outlet of the basin. The analysis is based on Boussinesq's standard hydraulic groundwater theory. The main feature of the present formulation is that it allows the estimation of catchment‐scale parameters, namely the aquifer hydraulic conductivity and the average depth to the impervious layer. The estimation of these parameters is based on a drought flow analysis which is consistent with the hydraulic groundwater theory used to develop the described technique. This hydraulic theory is found to be applicable for a catchment under humid temperate climatic conditions, namely the Zwalm catchment situated in East‐Flanders, Belgium. The results of the proposed analysis are used to estimate the initial conditions in a partial area runoff generation model. It is shown that accurate estimates of total runoff volume are obtained without further calibration of the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-434
Number of pages8
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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