Steady-state flow distribution and monthly flow duration in selected branches of St. Clair and Detroit rivers within the Great Lakes waterway

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4135




St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are connecting channels between Lake Huron and Lake Erie in the Great Lakes waterway, and form part of the boundary between the United States and Canada. St. Clair River, the upper connecting channel, drains 222,400 square miles and has an average flow of about 182,000 cubic feet per second. Water from St. Clair River combines with local inflows and discharges into Lake St. Clair before flowing into Detroit River. In some reaches of St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, islands and dikes split the flow into two to four branches. Even when the flow in a reach is known, proportions of flows within individual branches of a reach are uncertain. Simple linear regression equations, subject to a flow continuity constraint, are developed to provide estimators of these proportions and flows. The equations are based on 533 paired measurements of flow in 13 reaches forming 31 branches. The equations provide a means for computing the expected values and uncertainties of steady-state flows on the basis of flow conditions specified at the upstream boundaries of the waterway. In 7 upstream reaches, flow is considered fixed because it can be determined on the basis of flows specified at waterway boundaries and flow continuity. In these reaches, the uncertainties of flow proportions indicated by the regression equations can be used directly to determine the uncertainties of the corresponding flows. In the remaining 6 downstream reaches, flow is considered uncertain because these reaches do not receive flow from all the branches of an upstream reach, or they receive flow from some branches of more than one upstream reach. Monte Carlo simulation analysis is used to quantify this increase in uncertainty associated with the propagation of uncertainties from upstream reaches to downstream reaches. To eliminate the need for Monte Carlo simulations for routine calculations, polynomial regression equations are developed to approximate the variation in uncertainties as a function of flow at the headwaters of St. Clair River. Finally, monthly flow-duration data on the main channels of St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are used with the equations developed in this report to estimate the steady-state flow-duration characteristics of selected branches.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Steady-state flow distribution and monthly flow duration in selected branches of St. Clair and Detroit rivers within the Great Lakes waterway
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Lansing, MI
Contributing office(s):
Michigan Water Science Center
v, 58 p.
Canada, United States
Other Geospatial:
Detroit River, St. Clair River