Modeling total dissolved gas concentration downstream of spillways

A. L. Urban, John S Gulliver, D. W. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Dams are often operated to facilitate downstream juvenile anadromous fish migration over the spillways, but such operation can cause high dissolved concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen that can be harmful to fish. The concentration of total dissolved gas (TDG) in the flow changes with distance downstream of the spillway crest and depends on the geometric configuration of the spillway and on hydraulic and operating conditions. A model is presented that simulates the physical processes of gas transfer with the goal of having an accurate and more widely applicable TDG model for plunging spillway discharges. Bubble transfer is dominant in the stilling basin, while water surface transfer is dominant downstream. Sensitivity analyses suggest which physical processes are important for accurate total dissolved gas predictions. Instantaneous bubble coalescence and breakup based upon local turbulence conditions is an appropriate assumption. Vertical bubble profiles do not need to be simulated in this type of model. Water surface roughness provides a significant increase to surface transfer. Tailwater depth is important to downstream TDG concentrations. Finally, a 10% difference in air entrained at the plunge point causes relatively minor differences in TDG of 1.4 and 3.1% at low and high discharges, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-561
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2008


  • Dams
  • Dissolved gas
  • Gas flow
  • Nitrogen
  • Spillways
  • Turbulence
  • Water quality

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