ENVR 850  Surface Water Quality:
Modeling and Policy
Instructor:
Greg Characklis
Rosenau 139
Email: charack@email.unc.edu
Phone: (919) 8435545
Class Hours: Tuesdays
& Thursdays, 23:15pm
Office Hours: After
class or by appointment (I am usually
available)
Text: Surface
WaterQuality Modeling, S. C.
Chapra, McGrawHill, 1997.
Material will also be drawn from Civil
and Environmental Systems Engineering,
ReVelle, C. S., Whitlach, E. E. and J. R,
Wright.
Prerequisites:
Calculus and some nominal computer skills
(e.g., Excel). Knowledge of a mathematical
programming language (e.g., Mathematica,
Matlab) would be useful, but is not
required. Mass balance and kinetics
concepts will be reviewed, so while ENVR
451 is not necessary, those that have
taken or are taking this course will find
it complementary.
Course Background:
Evaluating and regulating surface water
quality has been a primary focus of
environmental engineering since its
inception. The initial motivation for
developing models of surface water systems
stemmed from concerns over the
oxygendepleting effects (e.g., BOD) of
releasing treated and untreated wastewater
into natural systems. Later, these models
were expanded to include consideration of
other “point sources” (usually industrial)
discharging various forms of organic and
inorganic contamination into waterways. As
point source emissions declined due to
regulatory action, “nonpoint” sources
became a growing concern as observations
indicated that significant contaminant
loads were entering lakes, streams, and
estuaries via runoff from rainfall events.
Current regulatory efforts seek to
characterize and prioritize the nation’s
impaired water bodies through the Total
Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, and
have resulted in renewed efforts to
develop increasingly sophisticated and
comprehensive surface water quality
models.
Course Objectives:
This course is designed to provide
students with a fundamental understanding
of water quality modeling theory and
application. Concepts related to mass
balances, reaction kinetics, and transport
will applied within a surface water
systems context. Students will be expected
to understand and apply various analytical
and numerical methods in the development
of surface water models. Models will be
developed with an eye toward policy
applications related to regulatory
decisions, including the establishment of
effluent standards, economically efficient
wasteload allocation (e.g., tradable
permit schemes), and facility siting.
Course Format:
The development of these models and their
application to policyrelated problems is
a lengthy process, even when presented in
somewhat simplified scenarios. These
exercises involve numerous decisions
regarding the problem formulation, the
approach to be used, and the assumptions
to be made, all of which require both time
and focused thought. As such, the basis
for grading in this course will be a
series of (56) miniprojects, each
designed to challenge the student’s
ability to integrate fundamental
scientific and engineering principles into
an applied setting. Grades will be
determined based on the basis of student
performance on these projects (85%), as
well as involvement in class discussions
and activities (15%).
A tentative schedule is presented below:
ENVR 850 Surface
Water Quality: Modeling & Policy 

Lecture 

Topic 

1 

Intro/Mass balances 

2 

Rxn Kinetics 

3 

Reactor theory 
Project #1 
4 

Modeling Natural Systems (lakes,
rivers) 

5 

Parameter Estimation (OLS w/
&w/o dummies) 

6 

Parameter Estimation (method of
moments) 

7 

Sedimentation/Benthic reactions 

8 

Adsorption/Contaminant
partitioning 

9 

Contaminant transport modeling in
rivers/streams 
Project #2 
10 

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) 

11 

Reaeration 

12 

Derivation of StreeterPhelps Eqn 

13 

BODDO Deficit Models (coupled
systems) 
Project #3 
14 

Analytical Modeling BOD:
point/nonpoint sources 

15 

Numerical Modeling of Surface
Water Quality 



Fall Break 

16 

Numerical Modeling of Surface
Water Quality 

17 

Numerical Modeling of Surface
Water Quality 
Project #4 
19 

Optimization/Linear Programming
(LP) 

20 

Optimization/Linear Programming
(LP) 

21 

Optimization/Linear Programming
(LP) 

22 

Regulatory Strategies/Optimal
Wasteload Allocation 

23 

Regulatory Strategies/Optimal
Wasteload Allocation 
Project #5 
24 

Diffusion/Dispersion 

25 

Advectivedispersive transport 



Thanksgiving 

26 

Advectivedispersive transport 

27 

Advectivedispersive transport 

28 

Estuary Modeling 

29 

Estuary Modeling 
Project #6 
