Rating Curves for Dams

Written by ironcore | March 10, 2017

Version 5 of HEC-RAS allows the use of rating curves for inline structures (and lateral structures).  Rating curves can be added through the Outlet RC feature in the inline structure editor.  Inline structure rating curves can be useful for evaluating the impacts of structures, such as labyrinth dams, where it may be difficult to correctly capture the geometry and/or flow properties within the inline structure editor.
Click the Outlet RC button and in the following menu you can add your rating curve based on upstream flow or water surface elevation.
Please note that the rating curve must account for any influence of downstream tailwater as HEC-RAS does not with the rating curve option.
When using the inline structure rating curve, the top of the dam must be above the highest elevation on the rating curve if you only want the rating curve to account for flow over the outlet feature.  You can check the Stage and Flow hydrograph to see how the rating curve is contributing to flow past the inline structure.  In the image below, the total flow is a combination of the rating curve and flow over the structure as I didn’t have the top of dam elevation set high enough in the first iteration.
Note that the peak flow is 34,471 cfs with a peak HW stage of 927.86.  When I raised the top of the dam to be above the top elevation of the rating curve, the peak flow is 33,967 cfs with a peak HW stage of 930.47 as shown in the Stage and Flow hydrograph below.  The peak flow rates are within 1.5%, but the peak HW elevations differ by almost 3’.
The Outlet RC feature is also available for lateral structures.


  1. Anonymous

    on December 11, 2017

    I’m not totally understanding your note that “the top of the dam must be above the highest elevation on the rating curve if you only want the rating curve to account for flow over the outlet feature”. I’m trying to have the rating curve determine the flood elevations at the dam but my model is dividing the flow between the rating curve and weir flow over the dam.

  2. Chris Goodell

    on December 13, 2017

    If the water surface is higher than the crest of the dam, you'll get weir flow in addition to flow from the user rating curve. If you don't want the additional weir flow, artificially raise the top of dam so that water doesn't overtop it.

  3. Gadis Kampung

    on August 27, 2018

    I simulate 2d and breach, but the results on stage and flow hydrogrphs on the tab curves rating and internal boundary curves are very messy and irregular. how can this problem be resolved?

  4. Anonymous

    on April 11, 2019

    Hi Chris. I'm trying to use the option of Outlet RC but when I try to run the model I get this message:

    SA/2D Connection:
    " – Outlet RC: has GIS coordinates that do not intersect the structure GIS centerline"

    I'm using the Hec-RAS 5.0.7 but I also tried old versions (5.0.6,5.0.5,..)so I believe that's something that I'm doing wrong.

    Do you know this problem? Any ideas about how to fix this? Thanks!

  5. Chris G.

    on April 12, 2019

    I have not experienced that problem before, but the error message sounds helpful. Check your GIS coordinates.

  6. GreenMan

    on September 10, 2019

    Thanks Chris, this really helped. I was having trouble determining if the weir/rating curve were operating together or if the rating curve took priority. I now see they were operating together for a combined effect and have corrected my model. Thanks!

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