Flow structure at different stages in a meander-bend with bendway weirs

Jorge D. Abad, Bruce L. Rhoads, Inci Güneralp, Marcelo H. García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Streambank erosion is an important management issue, particularly for meandering rivers. Recently, bendway weirs have become popular control measures for bank erosion along small meandering streams in the agricultural Midwest. Although these structures have successfully mitigated bank erosion in some cases, there is evidence that the weirs do not always perform as anticipated. Scientific understanding of how bendway weirs influence flow dynamics, streambank erosion, and aquatic habitat is limited. Current design criteria are based primarily on expert judgment rather than a formalized technical design procedure. At field-scale studies, the present paper represents a first step toward an integrated geomorphological and engineering evaluation of the performance of bendway weirs in rivers. To accomplish this initial phase, three-dimensional (3D) velocity data were collected on Sugar Creek at Brookside Farm, Ill., and 3D numerical simulations for low-flow conditions were performed to validate the computational fluid dynamic model. Overall results show good agreement between measured and simulated data for streamwise velocities and turbulence kinetic energy. The model is less accurate at predicting the velocity and turbulence kinetic energy in the shear layer immediately downstream from the weir tips. Based on the validation for low-flow condition, 3D simulations were carried out for medium and high flows where the bendway weirs are completely submerged. These simulations indicate that 3D patterns of flow, especially flow near the outer bank, change dramatically with changes in flow stage. Flow patterns at high-flow condition indicate that bank retreat over the tops of weirs is associated with locally high-shear stresses, thus producing a "shelf" along the base of the outer bank as observed in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1063
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Acoustic techniques
  • Bank erosion
  • Hydraulic structures
  • Meandering streams
  • Secondary flow
  • Threedimensional flow
  • Turbulent flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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