Estimation of Travel Times for Seven Tributaries of the Mississippi River, St. Cloud to Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003

By A.D. Arntson, D.L. Lorenz, and J.R. Stark

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5192

Prepared in cooperation with the Metropolitan Council, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Health, and the cities of St. Cloud, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, Minnesota

This report is also available as a pdf.


Travel times for seven streams tributary to the Mississippi River from St. Cloud to Minneapolis, Minnesota, were estimated for three flow conditions; low, median, and high. Travel times were estimated for Sauk, Elk, Crow, and Rum Rivers, and Elm, Coon, and Rice Creeks. Regression equations based on watershed characteristics of drainage area, river slope, mean annual discharge, and instantaneous discharge at the time of measurement from more than 900 streams across the nation were used to estimate travel times. Travel times were estimated for the leading edge, peak concentration, and trailing edge of tracer-response curves. To test the validity of these equations, a time of travel study, using a luminescent dye, was conducted on the Sauk River, from Rockville, to the confluence with the Mississippi River on June 16, 2003, at a discharge of 457 ft3/s at Rockville. Dye was injected in the Sauk River at Rockville, and time and concentrations were measured at three sampling sections downstream; at County Road 121, Veterans Drive, and County Road 1 near the mouth. The estimated travel times for the leading edge, peak concentration, and trailing edge at County Road 1 were 10.6 hrs, 11.9 hrs, and 14.6 hrs, respectively. The measured travel times for the leading edge, peak concentration, and trailing edge were 13.4 hrs, 15.5 hrs, and 20.5 hrs, respectively for the 15.7 mile reach.




Purpose and Scope

Hydrologic Setting


Estimated Travel Times of Seven Mississippi River Tributaries

Sauk River Time of Travel Study




Suggested Citation:

Arntson, A.D., Lorenz, D.L., and Stark, J.r., 2004, Estimation of travel times for seven tributaries of the Mississippi River, St. Cloud to Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003: U.S.Geological Survey Scientific Investigation Report 2004-5192, 17 p.

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