The hydrological catchment model known as TOPMODEL, in its original and most widely-used form, assumed that subsurface transmissivity decreases exponentially as subsurface water storage decreases. It has been shown that this leads to recession curves of discharge Q that take the form -dQ/dt = aQ(b), where a is a constant and b = 2. In order to reproduce a wider range of recession, or base flow, behaviour, a power function for transmissivity was subsequently incorporated into TOPMODEL as an alternative to the exponential function. This was claimed to extend the realistic values of b to range from 1 to 2, inclusive. We show here that the power transmissivity function can also generate values of b > 2 without making unrealistic assumptions (beyond those arguably made in the original TOPMODEL), thus generating recession curves consistent with catchments showing prolonged base flow. Furthermore, the power transmissivity function can generate recession curves that steepen with time (b < 1). Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.