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Twenty-seven measurements of traveltime and longitudinal dispersion in 10 Illinois streams made from 1975 to 1982 provide data needed for estimating traveltime of peak concentration of a conservative solute, traveltime of the leading edge of a solute cloud, peak concentration resulting from injection of a given quantity of solute, and passage time of solute past a given point on a stream. These four variables can be estimated graphically for each stream from distance of travel and either discharge at the downstream end of the reach or flow-duration frequency. From equations developed from field measurements, the traveltime and dispersion characteristics also can be estimated for other unregulated streams in Illinois that have drainage areas less than about 1,500 square miles. For unmeasured streams, traveltime of peak concentration and of the leading edge of the cloud are related to discharge at the downstream end of the reach and to distance of travel. For both measured and unmeasured streams, peak concentration and passage time are best estimated from the relation of each to traveltime. In measured streams, dispersion efficiency is greater than that predicted by Fickian diffusion theory. The rate of decrease in peak concentration with traveltime is about equal to the rate of increase in passage time. Average velocity in a stream reach, given by the velocity of the center of solute mass in that reach, can be estimated from an equation developed from measured values. The equation relates average reach velocity to discharge at the downstream end of the reach. Average reach velocities computed for 9 of the 10 streams from available equations that are based on hydraulic-geometry relations are high relative to measured values. The estimating equation developed from measured velocities provides estimates of average reach velocity that are closer to measured velocities than are those computed using equations developed from hydraulic-geometry relations.
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Traveltime and longitudinal dispersion in Illinois streams