Choosing the Right Type of Flume

Flumes facilitate the measurement of water or wastewater flow in free-flowing conditions. Most flumes are relatively simple devices, featuring only a single structure that restricts flow. Different flume designs achieve flow restriction in varying ways, so it’s important to select the right type of flume for your specific flow, channel type, and application environment to achieve optimal measurements.

Types of Flumes

Learning about the capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages of each flume type will help you to source the best flume for your flow measurement needs. Continue reading to learn more about the various flume types.

Palmer-Bowlus Flumes

A Palmer-Bowlus flume’s u-shaped cross-section and long throat make it easy to install in pipes or u-shaped channels with long, straight runs. The Palmer-Bowlus flume offers an ideal measurement solution for mid-to-high flow rates, but measurements become less accurate if the flow depth becomes too low in comparison to the length of the flume itself. In environments with lower flow rates and higher solid content, sediment from the flow may settle upstream from the flume and cause flow issues.

Some of the most frequent measurement applications for Palmer-Bowlus flumes include pipelines, manholes, sanitary sewers, and industrial runoff. 

Parshall Flumes

Parshall flumes offer an ideal solution for fixed-flow monitoring installations. As one of the most widely used flumes, Parshall flumes feature an open channel flow section that works well for measuring flow in installations such as canals and ditches. Even if flow spills off the end of the Parshall flume, users can still get accurate flow measurements as long as the discharge remains lower than the inlet.

The applications for this type of flume are nearly universal because of its highly standardized nature. The Parshall flume is available in a variety of throat widths that conform to standard dimensions put forth by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. Common applications for Parshall flumes include wastewater treatment and municipal sewers. 

Trapezoidal Flumes

Trapezoidal flumes offer an ideal measurement solution for flows with significant debris or solid content. Named for its trapezoidal cross-section, this flume also has a flat bottom that makes it easy to fit into most standard irrigation channels. As a result, measuring flow rates in irrigation ditches and channels is the most common application for trapezoidal flumes. Measurements remain accurate at high or low flow rates.

H Flumes

The H Flume features a V-shaped design that facilitates the measurement of a very broad range of flows, from extremely low to very high. Initially designed by the U.S. Forestry Service as a portable flume, the H flume is used broadly to measure runoff from farms. Some of the typical measurement applications for H flumes include:

  • Agricultural water runoff
  • Holding pond overflow
  • Industrial process discharge
  • Irrigation water
  • Storm/sanitary sewer discharge
  • Snowmelt
  • Watershed runoff

Fiberglass Flumes From Virtual Polymer Compounds

At Virtual Polymer Compounds (VPC), we know fiberglass better than anyone else. Our team has extensive experience designing and manufacturing flumes, and we can help you select the optimal fiberglass flume for your specific use case. To see how our standard flumes or custom capabilities can suit your needs, please contact our team today.


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