A hydrodynamic water quality model for propagation of pollutants in rivers

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Numerical modelling can be a useful tool to assess a receiving water body's quality state. Indeed, the use of mathematical models in river water quality management has become a common practice to show the cause-effect relationship between emissions and water body quality and to design as well as assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures. In the present study, a hydrodynamic river water quality model is presented. The model consists of a quantity and a quality sub-model. The quantity sub-model is based on the Saint Venant equations. The solution of the Saint Venant equations is obtained by means of an explicit scheme based on space-time conservation. The method considers the unification of space and time and the enforcement of flux conservation in both space and time. On the other hand, the quality sub-model is based on the advection dispersion equation. Particularly, the principle of upstream weighting applied to finite difference methods is employed. This method enable us to reduce the numerical dispersion avoiding oscillation phenomena. The optimal weighting coefficient was calculated on the basis of the mesh Peclet number. Regarding the quality processes, the model takes into account the main physical/chemical processes; these are degradation of dissolved carbonaceous substances, ammonium oxidation, algal uptake and denitrification, dissolved oxygen balance, including depletion by degradation processes and supply by physical reaeration and photosynthetic production. To properly simulate the river water quality, four state variables were considered: DO, BOD, NH4, and NO. The model was applied to the Savena River (Italy), which is the focus of a European-financed project for which quantity and quality data were gathered. A sensitivity analysis of the model output compared to the model input or parameters was carried out.

Keywords: advection, dispersion, pollution propagation, receiving stream, unsteady flow

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