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5.1: What's a Weir?

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    A weir is an overflow structure that is used to alter flow characteristics. In the example below, the water is flowing from left to right. The black triangular-shaped structure is the weir. It is impeding the flow of water causing the water to flow over the weir structure. It raises the level of flow to evenly disperse the water. A weir meters flow to a specific rate known as the Weir Overflow Rate (WOR.) WORs are expressed as the flow of water by the length of the weir, typically as MGD per foot (MGD/ft) or gpm per foot (gpm/ft).

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Weir Overflow Rate Formula

    Weir Overflow Rate (gpm/ft) = Flow (gpm)/Length of Weir (ft)

    Calculating the length of the weir is required in order to calculate the WOR. Sometimes the weir can be a circular structure requiring the circumference to be calculated in order to find the actual length. Other times it is a linear structure, in which case the length would be known.

    Weirs can either be sharp-crested or broad-crested. Broad-crested weirs are flat-crested structures and are commonly used in dam spillways. Sharp-crested weirs (most common are “V” notch) allow the water to fall cleanly away from the weir and are typically found in water treatment plants.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Broad Crested Weir Sharp Crested Weir


    1. What is the weir overflow rate through a 7 MGD treatment plant if the weir is 30 feet long? (Express your answer in MGD/ft and gpm/ft).
    2. A drainage channel has a 10-foot weir and a weir overflow rate of 7 gpm/ft. What is the daily flow expressed in MGD?
    3. What is the length of a weir if the daily flow is 8.45 MG and the weir overflow rate is 28 gpm/ft?
    4. A 60 ft diameter circular clarifier has a weir overflow rate of 15 gpm/ft. What is the daily flow in MGD?
    5. A treatment plant processes 15 MGD. The weir overflow rate through a circular clarifier is 29.5 gpm/ft. What is the diameter of the clarifier?
    6. An aqueduct that flowed 36,000 acre-feet of water last year has a weir overflow structure to control the flow. If the weir is 250 feet long, what was the average weir overflow rate in gpm/ft?
    7. A 75-mile aqueduct is being reconstructed to widen the width across the top. The width across the bottom is 10 feet and the average water depth is 15 feet. The aqueduct must maintain a constant weir overflow rate of 25 gpm per foot with a daily flow of 0.63 MGD. What is the length of the weir?
    8. An engineering report determined that a minimum weir overflow rate of 15 gpm per foot and a maximum weir overflow rate of 20 gpm per foot were needed to meet the water quality objectives of a certain treatment plant. The existing weir is 80 feet long. What is the daily treatment flow range of the plant?
    9. A circular clarifier processes 12.5 MGD with a detention time of 2.35 hours. If the clarifier is 50 feet deep, what is the diameter?
    10. A water treatment plant is in the process of redesigning its sedimentation basin. The plant treats 4.5 MGD with an average detention time of 1.85 hours. Portable storage tanks will be used when the basin is under construction. The portable storage tanks are 25 ft tall and 20 ft in diameter. How many tanks will be needed?

    5.1: What's a Weir? is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Mike Alvord.