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A weir is commonly used in open channels for controlling upstream water levels and

measuring discharge. For both tasks it acts as an obstruction which promotes a condition of
minimum specific energy in sub critical flow. When used for the latter purpose all weirs must be
calibrated because theoretical predictions of discharge are rendered inadequate by the effects of
viscosity and the variations of flow geometry with upstream depth. Broad crested weirs are
generally constructed from reinforced concrete and are widely used for flow measurement and
regulation of water depth in rivers, canals and other natural open channels.

A weir in general can take on many shapes, however broad crested weirs operate more
effectively than their sharp crested counterparts under higher downstream water levels, and can be
used to measure the discharge of rivers since the parallel flow caused by the weir allows it to be
accurately analyzed by the use of energy principles and critical depth relationships.

It works on the principle that subcritical flow upstream of the weir moves over the
obstruction and this height of the weir causes critical flow, accelerating the liquid which then
transitions into supercritical nappe after the weir is crossed downstream. This critical depth
required to cause critical flow is not easily measured because its exact location is not easy to
determine and may vary with flow rate. However, the upstream depth can be used to determine the
flow rate through mass conservation which is a more reliable measurement.

In this experiment, sharp-crested weirs were used for the purpose of calibrating the flow of
water. Three different shapes of weirs; rectangular, triangular, and trapezoidal; were used and its
different function and effects in flow calibration were determined in the experiment.

Figure 1. Common Sharp Crested Weir Shapes

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Rectangular sharp-crested weirs have high discharge values and are used to control fluid
up and downstream of the weir. It is also used to change water elevations. The general discharge
equation for rectangular sharp-crested weirs is (Prycel, n.d.):
𝑄 = 𝐶𝐷 √2𝑔𝐵𝐻 3⁄2
𝐶𝐷 = 0.602 + 0.083
 𝑄 (m3/s) is the volumetric flow rate over the weir
 𝐶𝐷 is the discharge coefficient ranging from 0.60 to 0.62
 𝐻 (m) is the head over the weir (from the crest to the upstream fluid surface)
 𝑃 (m) is the height of the weir plate
 𝐵 (m) is the width
 𝑔 is the acceleration due to gravity (9.81 m/s2)

Triangular sharp-crested weirs (V-Notch) are used for low discharge value. It is the best
weir for measuring discharge in an open channel with an accuracy of ±2% in measuring flow rate.
The equation for the discharge across a triangular sharp-crested weir is (Prycel, n.d.):

8 𝜃 ⁄
𝑄= 𝐶𝑒 √2𝑔 tan ( ) ℎ𝑒 5 2
15 2
ℎ𝑒 = 𝐻 + 𝑘ℎ
 𝑄 (m3/s) is the volumetric flow rate over the weir
 𝐶𝑒 is the effective discharge coefficient
 𝑘ℎ is the head correction factor
 𝐻 (m) is the head flowing through the notch
 𝜃 (degrees) is the notch angle
 𝑔 is the acceleration due to gravity (9.81 m/s2)

Trapezoidal sharp-crested (Cipoletti) weirs are combinations of rectangular and triangular

sharp-crested weir. It is used when discharge is too great for a rectangular sharp-crested weir.
The equation in solving for the discharge in a trapezoidal sharp-crested weir is (The Constructor-
Civil Engineering, 2015):
2 8 𝜃
𝑄 = 𝐶𝐷 √2𝑔𝐿𝐻 3⁄2 + 𝐶𝐷 √2𝑔 tan ( ) 𝐻 5⁄2
3 15 2

Figure 1. Crest of a Trapezoidal Sharp-Crested Weir

Image Source:

But for a trapezoidal weir with sides sloping outward from the crest at an inclination of
1:4, (horizontal/vertical), the equation for discharge is (Prycel, n.d.):

𝑄 = 3.367𝐿𝐻 3⁄2

(n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2018, from http://lab.fs.uni-

LAB REPORT ON BROAD CRESTED WEIR. (2016, June 09). Retrieved February 10, 2018, from