Trends in rainfall intensity for stormwater designs in Ontario

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The intensities of short-duration rainfall events are fundamental inputs to the design of stormwater management infrastructure. However, since stormwater infrastructure must function as designed for many decades, if there are long-term trends in rainfall intensities, design storms need to be modified. Evidence demonstrates, using data from 13 rain gauges in Ontario, that storm intensities relevant to urban stormwater (5 year) appear to have changed over the last 30 years. The results show, for example, statistical significance at 80% confidence that the 5-year storm has increased, and 85% that the 2-year storm has increased, for the 1 h storm in Waterloo, using partial duration series (PDS) data. The PDS data indicate intensities are increasing at a rate of 1–3% per year. Results show, for example, that a 5-year recurrence storm for PDS for the period 1970–1984 is now very close in magnitude to a 2-year recurrence storm for the period 1985–2003 for Waterloo, Ontario. The implications for a case study demonstrate that 5 out of 12 storm sewer pipes in a subdivision would need to be increased in diameter to obtain the same level of stormwater performance.

Keywords: design storms, IDF curves, rainfall intensity, storm sewers

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