The floodway plays an important role in flood modeling. In the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires the floodway to be determined using an approved computer program for developed communities. It is a local government’s interest to minimize the floodway area because encroachment areas may be permitted for human activities. However, manual determination of the floodway can be time-consuming and subjective depending on the modeler’s knowledge and judgments, and may not necessarily produce a small floodway especially when there are many cross sections because of their correlation. Very little work has been done in terms of floodway optimization. In this study, we propose an optimization method for minimizing the floodway area using the Isolated-Speciation-based Particle Swarm Optimization algorithm and the Hydrologic Engineering Center’s River Analysis System (HEC-RAS). This method optimizes the floodway by defining an objective function that considers the floodway area and hydraulic requirements, and automating operations of HEC-RAS. We used a floodway model provided by HEC-RAS and compared the proposed, manual, and default HEC-RAS methods. The proposed method consistently improved the objective function value by 1–40%. We believe that this method can provide an automated tool for optimizing the floodway model using HEC-RAS.
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