American Society of Civil Engineers

Hydraulic Study of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal

by Nicholas Dudley Ward, (Envir. Engr., Pattle Delamore Partners, Radio New Zealand House, 51 Chester St. West, Christchurch, New Zealand. E-mail:, Jeffrey A. Gebert, (Chf., Coastal Planning, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia Dist., 100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia, PA 19107. E-mail:, and J. Richard Weggel, (corresponding author), F.ASCE, (Samuel S. Baxter Prof., Dept. of Civ., Arch. and Envir. Engrg., Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 E-mail:

Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Engineering, Vol. 135, No. 1, January/February 2009, pp. 24-30, (doi:

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Document type: Technical Note
Abstract: We document the development and application of a one-dimensional flow model of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal based on the dynamic form of the St. Venant equations. Model geometry is based on hydrographic surveys obtained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 2006. The model is forced with time-varying tidal boundary conditions at the east and west ends of the Canal, and predicts velocity and discharge at selected locations within the canal. The model was calibrated using current meter data obtained between October 1992 and October 1993, when USACE operated recording current meters in and adjacent to the canal. Following selection of these parameters, the model was run to simulate other periods between October 1992 and October 1993. Comparison of model and prototype current speeds for these simulations demonstrates the ability of the model to reproduce observed flows accurately under a range of tidal forcing conditions. The model was used to describe the average net flow in the canal which is normally from the Chesapeake to the Delaware but which reversed during the Northeaster of December 1992, a period of unusually high meteorologically driven tides of the Delaware Estuary.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Civil engineering landmarks
Numerical analysis
Open channel flow
Tidal currents
Chesapeake Bay