Simulation of the hydraulic performance of highway filter drains through laboratory models and stormwater management tools

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Jul;25(20):19228-19237. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-9170-7. Epub 2017 May 23.


Road drainage is one of the most relevant assets in transport infrastructure due to its inherent influence on traffic management and road safety. Highway filter drains (HFDs), also known as "French Drains", are the main drainage system currently in use in the UK, throughout 7000 km of its strategic road network. Despite being a widespread technique across the whole country, little research has been completed on their design considerations and their subsequent impact on their hydraulic performance, representing a gap in the field. Laboratory experiments have been proven to be a reliable indicator for the simulation of the hydraulic performance of stormwater best management practices (BMPs). In addition to this, stormwater management tools (SMT) have been preferentially chosen as a design tool for BMPs by practitioners from all over the world. In this context, this research aims to investigate the hydraulic performance of HFDs by comparing the results from laboratory simulation and two widely used SMT such as the US EPA's stormwater management model (SWMM) and MicroDrainage®. Statistical analyses were applied to a series of rainfall scenarios simulated, showing a high level of accuracy between the results obtained in laboratory and using SMT as indicated by the high and low values of the Nash-Sutcliffe and R 2 coefficients and root-mean-square error (RMSE) reached, which validated the usefulness of SMT to determine the hydraulic performance of HFDs.

Keywords: Highway filter drains (HFDs); Low impact development (LID); Rainfall-runoff simulation; Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS); Transport infrastructure; Water sensitive urban design (WSUD).

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Drainage, Sanitary / methods*
  • Drainage, Sanitary / standards
  • Hydrology / instrumentation*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Rain*
  • United Kingdom
  • Water Movements