Predicting travel time and dispersion in rivers and streams

Journal of Hydraulic Engineering


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The possibility of a contaminant being accidentally or intentionally spilled in a river is a constant concern to those using the water. Methods are developed to estimate: (1) the velocity of a contaminant in a river; (2) the rate of attenuation of the peak concentration of a conservative contaminant; and (3) the time required for a contaminant plume to pass a point. The methods are based on data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey in almost a hundred different rivers representing a wide range of sizes, slopes, and geomorphic types. Although the accuracy of the predictions can be greatly increased by performing time-of-travel studies, the emphasis of this paper is on providing methods for making estimates where few data are available. It is shown that the unit-peak concentration is well correlated with travel time and that the travel time of the leading edge averages 89% of the travel time of the peak concentration.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Predicting travel time and dispersion in rivers and streams
Series title Journal of Hydraulic Engineering
Volume 123
Issue 11
Year Published 1997
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Hydraulic Engineering
First page 971
Last page 978
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