International Projects







Senior BYU Civil Engineering Capstone Project

Nathan Lowe    Shawn Stanley    Jeffery Crump





team members






The city of Zacatecas, Mexico and a nearby suburb called Guadalupe are expanding together into an area where two watersheds, El Rio La Plata and El Arroyo Bernardez, will likely be affected such that runoff from these basins will be altered. As the ground surface is cleared of vegetation and covered with pavement and buildings, it will become less absorbent, and runoff will increase in volume and intensity. Those who are aware of this are concerned about the hazards it may pose to downstream developments.

In order to address these issues, our team will combine topographic, soil type, land use, and precipitation data using Watershed Modeling Software (WMS) to create a model of the area of concern. This will facilitate an analysis on the effects of different land uses and covers in the area on surface runoff. Once complete, our data will be presented in such a way as to be easily interpreted by those involved, such as local government officials. We think that this study will be beneficial to the area in controlling the potential for flooding as well as erosion.

Due to the inaccessibility of the project site from BYU, much of the information we may need to model the two watersheds may need to be provided by the members of the project team at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (UAZ).  Such information may include more detailed topographic data, soil types and land uses, vegetation and ground cover, historic rainfall and runoff data, locations of anticipated development, and any other features unique to the site such as channels or reservoirs that will be needed for the analysis. They may perform site visits to assess some of these parameters, and provide qualitative and quantitative input on the desired outcome of the project. This will help us to provide a useful product to the municipal government and residents of Zacatecas and Guadalupe.



The tasks to be completed are outlined in the project schedule.  These tasks include: initial research, meetings and coordination, preliminary and final designs, site visit, and presentations.  Each task is further outlined and subdivided into subtasks, as shown in the Appendix.

Initial research

The initial research to be performed entails obtaining Geographic Information System (GIS) data, including digital maps, aerial photos, and topographic data for the area to be modeled.  The GIS data will be obtained from INEGI (National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics) in Mexico and from other sources as needed.  Hydrologic data, such as precipitation and runoff, will also be obtained during initial research.  Finally, data describing land use and soil type will be obtained to predict infiltration and runoff.  In order to accurately reflect the watersheds’ parameters, a critical portion of this data will include the current and proposed development in the watershed.  The research team in Mexico will be instrumental in helping us acquire this crucial data.

Meetings and Coordination

            Meetings between the project teams and our BYU mentor, Dr. Nelson, will be held on a recurring and as-needed basis.  Communication between the teams in Utah and Mexico will be done primarily via email.

Preliminary Design

            The preliminary design will include importing into WMS the GIS, hydrologic, and geologic data obtained during initial research, and creating current and future models of the watersheds.  These will be analyzed to determine the effects of urbanization on the watersheds.  Also, a hydraulic model will be created using HEC-RAS to analyze the effects on the flood plains.

Final Design

            After the model has been created and analyzed, presentations will be prepared in both Spanish and English, and will be delivered while on-site in Zacatecas.  A report will also be made to summarize the findings of the models and analysis.

Site Visit and Presentation

            A site visit to Zacatecas will be made between the 16th and 24th of March, 2007.  This will facilitate further collaboration with our research team and provide an opportunity to present the results of the analysis in Spanish to stakeholders such as government officials, professors, students, and possibly residents of the area.



            The deliverables for this project will include an accurate model of the Guadalupe-Zacatecas watershed, along with a thorough analysis of the effects of urbanization on the area.  A report and a team presentation detailing this analysis and our conclusions will also be provided.  It is anticipated that as the project unfolds, these deliverables may be added to and/or changed in order to best meet the needs of the client.