Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



Identification of unknown pollution sources is essential to environmental protection and emergency response. A review of recent publications in source identification revealed that there are very limited numbers of research in modeling methods for rivers. What’s more, the majority of these attempts were to find the source strength and release time, while only a few of them discussed how to identify source locations. Comparisons of these works indicated that a combination of biological, mathematical and geographical method could effectively identify unknown source area(s), which was a more practical trial in a watershed. This thesis presents a watershed-based modeling approach to identification of critical source area. The new approach involves (1) identification of pollution source in rivers using a moment-based method and (2) identification of critical source area in a watershed using a hydrograph-based method and high-resolution radar rainfall data. In terms of the moment-based method, the first two moment equations are derived through the Laplace transform of the Variable Residence Time (VART) model. The first moment is used to determine the source location, while the second moment can be employed to estimate the total mass of released pollutant. The two moment equations are tested using conservative tracer injection data collected from 23 reaches of five rivers in Louisiana, USA, ranging from about 3km to 300 km. Results showed that the first moment equation is able to predict the pollution source location with a percent error of less than 18% in general. The predicted total mass has a larger percent error, but a correction could be added to reduce the error significantly. Additionally, the moment-based method can be applied to identify the source location of reactive pollutants, provided that the special and temporal concentrations are recorded in downstream stations. In terms of the hydrograph-based method, observed hydrographs corresponding to pollution events can be utilized to identify the critical source area in a watershed. The time of concentration could provide a unique fingerprint for each subbasin in the watershed. The observation of abnormally high bacterial levels along with high resolution radar rainfall data can be used to match the most possible storm events and thus the critical source area.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Deng, Zhi-Qiang