Estrada Uribe, Melisa. 2008.

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Melisa Estrada Uribe. 2008. Stream water quality modeling: assessing the effects of waste water discharge in Puerto Berrío, Colombia.

Master Thesis presented by Melisa Estrada to the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Geo- and Environmental Sciences. Resources Engineering Study Programme, Universität Karlsruhe (TH), Germany. April 2008. First supervisor: Prof. Erhard Hoffmann, IWG/SWW Second supervisor: Prof. Hermann Hahn, IWG/SWW.

Details on the Master Thesis Proposal


Puerto Berrío is one of the municipalities in Colombia, located at the riverside of the Magdalena River and just as in many others, the wastewater produced there is discharged untreated into the river, entailing some negative consequences for the environment and the population. By means of water quality modeling, complemented with a water quality index analysis, the assessment of the effects on the water quality of the receiving water body was performed. Each one of the analysis tools used provided information about different aspects: the oxygen balance, the pollutants plume distribution and the influence on water quality of other pollutants. These analyses were performed for three different scenarios reflecting the changes in river flow, water level and water quality depending on the time of the year, in order to see the influence of seasonal variations. As a general result it can be said that for the case of Puerto Berrío there is no season where the conditions care for a wastewater discharge completely free of adverse effects, since either the flow or the water quality of the season does not favor the assimilation capacity of the water body.


Puerto Berrío es uno de los municipios de Colombia situados en la zona ribereña del río Magdalena, y al igual que en muchos otros, la descarga de aguas residuales se realiza directamente al río sin ser sometidas a ningún tratamiento previo y con consecuencias negativas tanto para el medio ambiente como para la población. Por medio de la modelación matemática, complementada con el análisis del índice de calidad del agua, se realizó la estimación de estos efectos. Cada una de las herramientas empleadas arrojó resultados relacionados con diferentes aspectos: el balance de oxígeno, la distribución de la pluma del contaminante y la influencia de otros contaminantes sobre la calidad del agua. Los análisis se realizaron para tres escenarios diferentes, con los cuales se buscó reflejar los efectos de las variaciones de caudal y calidad del cuerpo receptor durante el año. Como resultado general se puede decir que ninguna de los escenarios estudiados presenta las condiciones para que la descarga de aguas residuales se realice sin generar ningún efecto negativo, puesto que bien sea el caudal o la calidad del agua del cuerpo receptor desfavorecen su capacidad de asimilación.

Thesis Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
    1. Regional and local background
    2. Institutional framework
    3. Legal framework on water quality
  3. Water Quality System of Puerto Berrío
    1. Drinking water and wastewater management
      1. Drinking water supply system
      2. Sewer system
      3. Wastewater treatment plants
      4. Wastewater discharges
    2. Description of the receiving water body
      1. The Magdalena River Basin
      2. Water quality of the Magdalena River
      3. Longitudinal and seasonal variations in the Magdalena River
    3. River stretch characteristics
    4. River related activities in Puerto Berrío
  4. Estimation of local effects of wastewater discharge
    1. Problem identification
    2. Stream Water Quality Modeling
      1. Theory on stream water quality modeling
      2. Water quality modeling in the Magdalena River
      3. Water Quality Modeling Computer Aided Learning: WQM CAL
      4. Modeling the branch
    3. Water Quality Index
  5. Results and discussion
    1. BOD-DO model
    2. Transversal mixing model
    3. Water Quality Index
    4. High water season Vs. Low water season
    5. Possible improvements of the situation
      1. Wastewater treatment plant Lagunas
      2. Pipe extension: relocation of pipe outlet
  6. Conclusion
  7. Recommendations
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References