StreamVOC - A deterministic source-apportionment model to estimate volatile organic compound concentrations in rivers and streams

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5110

, , , and ORCID iD



This report documents the construction and verification of the model, StreamVOC, that estimates (1) the time- and position-dependent concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in rivers and streams as well as (2) the source apportionment (SA) of those concentrations. The model considers how different types of sources and loss processes can act together to yield a given observed VOC concentration. Reasons for interest in the relative and absolute contributions of different sources to contaminant concentrations include the need to apportion: (1) the origins for an observed contamination, and (2) the associated human and ecosystem risks. For VOCs, sources of interest include the atmosphere (by absorption), as well as point and nonpoint inflows of VOC-containing water. Loss processes of interest include volatilization to the atmosphere, degradation, and outflows of VOC-containing water from the stream to local ground water. This report presents the details of StreamVOC and compares model output with measured concentrations for eight VOCs found in the Aberjona River at Winchester, Massachusetts. Input data for the model were obtained during a synoptic study of the stream system conducted July 11-13, 2001, as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The input data included a variety of basic stream characteristics (for example, flows, temperature, and VOC concentrations). The StreamVOC concentration results agreed moderately well with the measured concentration data for several VOCs and provided compound-dependent SA estimates as a function of longitudinal distance down the river. For many VOCs, the quality of the agreement between the model-simulated and measured concentrations could be improved by simple adjustments of the model input parameters. In general, this study illustrated: (1) the considerable difficulty of quantifying correctly the locations and magnitudes of ground-water-related sources of contamination in streams; and (2) that model-based estimates of stream VOC concentrations are likely to be most accurate when the major sources are point sources or tributaries where the spatial extent and magnitude of the sources are tightly constrained and easily determined.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
StreamVOC - A deterministic source-apportionment model to estimate volatile organic compound concentrations in rivers and streams
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
South Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
xii, 167 p.
Additional Online Files (Y/N):