Face-to-Face Seminar

December 1–2, 2022 | Reston, Virginia



8:00 AM - 5:00 PM ET each day


14 PDHs


Member $775 | Non-Member $875

Interested in registering 5 or more engineers for a course? Contact us for information and rates.


Luke J. Sherry, PE, CFM

Thomas T. Burke Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CFM, M.ASCE

Heather Finfrock, P.E., CFM

Darren Olson, P.E., D. WRE, CFM, CPESC

This is a hands-on seminar. You must bring your own laptop.

Purpose & background

The design of most hydraulic structures (e.g., culverts, open channels, reservoirs, etc.) requires either at peak discharge or an inflow hydrograph. Hydraulic assessments (e.g. flood elevations, sediment transport, contaminant transport, etc.) are also generally preceded by hydrologic studies. How do engineers perform these hydrologic studies? Take heart - HEC-HMS does the job.

The Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC) of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is well known for its hydrologic and hydraulic software. HEC-1 has been one of the primary hydrologic models used by American engineers for over two decades. HEC-HMS (hydrologic modeling system) is part of the new generation software that has replaced HEC-1 and is now considered the leading, most versatile public domain tool for conducting hydrologic analysis. The thought and effort that went into this Windows version program has made it as popular as its standard hydraulics software counterpart, the river analysis system model (HEC-RAS).

HEC-HMS takes full advantage of the multi-tasking, Windows environment. It includes a graphical-user interface, data storage and management features, integrated hydrologic analysis components, and graphical and tabular reporting facilities. Inputting your watershed is akin to building something with Legos. Icons representing sub-basins are grabbed from a palette, placed in the workspace, and interconnected with stream, reservoir, and junction icons. By clicking on these icons, you open up data input boxes (which request information, like lengths, areas, infiltration parameters, etc.). Finally, you input the rainfall characteristics and launch the model. It is so intuitive, even your boss will finally understand what you do!

HEC-HMS provides a variety of options for simulating the rainfall-runoff process:

  • Precipitation can be modeled using either actual gauged events or hypothetical (frequency based) storms.
  • Rainfall losses are represented empirically (SCS) or with physically based algorithms (Green and Ampt).
  • Runoff is generated from unit hydrograph transforms or the physically based kinematic wave method.
  • Stream routing options include the Muskingum, Modified-Puls, Muskingum-Cunge, and kinematic wave methods.
  • Reservoir routing, base flow, dam break analysis, and diversions can also be modeled.

Course benefits

This hands-on computer workshop will introduce you to HEC-HMS and teach you how to use it with confidence. This is accomplished in a cooperative learning environment. Short lectures will be supplemented with example problems (on the computer) and question and answer sessions. After attending this two-day workshop and seminar, you will feel comfortable enough with HEC-HMS to begin using it immediately.

  • Input requirements and output interpretation will come naturally.
  • The manuals and on-line help will not seem overwhelming.
  • You will know how to find the proper procedures for handling unusual situations.

Using sample problems, the workshop will take you through HEC-HMS step-by-step. On the first day, you will learn about the background and general capabilities of the model. In addition, you will work with the basin, precipitation, runoff modules, and stream routing capabilities of the model. The second day will be reserved for covering reservoir routing, dam break analysis, model execution, and the analysis of our results. We will also cover some special topics, including a session on the erosion and sediment transport and a session on nutrient water quality. Students are grouped in teams of two for the workshop.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand and apply the basic hydrologic principles (watershed delineation, design rain storms, infiltration, runoff, channel routing, detention storage routing) used by most hydrologic models.
  • Develop and run a HEC-HMS hydrologic model using specified input data.
  • Understand modeling error messages and how to interpret them.
  • Understand and apply the HEC-HMS model for dam break analysis.
  • Understand the basics of the HEC-HMS erosion and sediment transport module as well as the nutrient water quality module.

Assessment of learning outcomes

  • Students complete a computational exercise for each hydrologic principle. The completed exercises are self-evaluated and the solutions are presented and discussed following each workshop module.
  • Students complete the sequential development of a HEC-HMS model with a successful model run. Model results for the solution are presented and the student results are compared and discussed.
  • Students encounter errors when initially running their models. Some errors are purposely incorporated into the specified data. The error statements are discussed with students with regard to where they are occurring and what parameters or data are involved. Corrections are made to generate the successful model run.
  • Students complete an additional set of model simulations to size a detention pond outlet proposed on one of the tributaries to offset the impacts of new development, using several different HEC-HMS features and algorithms. The student results are compared and discussed in detail.
  • Students complete a dam break analysis using their completed HEC-HMS model. The solution dam break model results are compared with the student results and interpretations of the results to identify the occurrence of a dam break are discussed.
  • Students are shown the capabilities of HEC-HMS to calculate and monitor erosion and sediment transport as well as nutrient water quality, the necessary input data, and how the results can be viewed.

Special features

Workshop participants will receive a comprehensive course notebook containing all presentation slides.

Who should attend?

If your work requires hydrologic modeling, for applications such as watershed studies, stormwater management projects, flood elevation determinations, dam break analysis, and sediment or contaminant transport analyses, this workshop is for you. The seminar includes lectures and class exercises on hydrologic algorithms, as well as practical hands-on applications using HEC-HMS.

Level of Instruction: This seminar is intended for people with some hydrologic background and a need for instruction in the techniques and applications of hydrologic modeling. The seminar will give you confidence in applying HEC-HMS or other hydrologic models to water related projects.


Day 1

  • Hydrologic modeling overview
  • HEC-HMS capabilities
  • Basin delineation*
  • Precipitation methodology*
  • Rainfall abstractions (losses)*
  • Runoff transformations*
  • Stream routing

Day 2

  • Reservoir routing*
  • Model execution*
  • Analysis of results*
  • Additional simulations with alternative algorithms*
  • Dam break analysis*
  • Erosion and sediment transport
  • Nutrient water quality

*Hands-on example problems covered for each of these topics.