Basic Water and Wastewater Formulas
By Zane Satterfield, P. E., NESC Engineering Scientist


Operators obtaining or maintaining their certification must be able to calculate complex formulas and conversion factors. This Tech Brief provides basic examples of these formulas and conversion factors.

Metric Conversion Factors (Approximate) Conversions from Metric Measures

When You Know
mm cm m m km millimeters centimeters meters meters kilometers

Multiply By
0.04 0.4 3.3 1.1 0.6

inches inches feet yards miles

To Find

in in ft yds mi

Area Mass (Weight)

cm2 m2 km2 ha g kg t ml l l l m3 m3

square centimeters square meters square kilometers hectares (10,000m2) grams kilograms tones (1,000kg) milliliters liters liters liters cubic meters cubic meters Celsius temperature

0.16 1.2 0.4 2.5 0.035 2.2 1.1 0.03 2.1 1.06 0.26 35.0 1.3 9/5 (then add 32)

square inches square yards square miles acres ounces pounds short tons fluid ounces pints quarts gallons cubic feet cubic yards Fahrenheit temperature

in2 yd2 mi2 acrs oz lbs fl oz pt qt gal ft3 yd3


Temp. 0C F= (9/5)C+32


-40 -40

0 -20

32 0

40 20


98.6 40

120 60

160 80




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= Volume. Winter 2008. ft Pounds. hrs (Volume. = Surface Area. gpd Area.394 inches *MGD = million gallons per day 1 kilopascal = 0. mg/L Cl2 Demand.000 mg/L 1 yd3 = 27ft3 1 kilowatt = 1. gal)(24 hrs/day) Flow.8 x ˚C) + 32 ˚C (˚F-32) (5/9) Flow.560 ft2 ac. ft2) Flow.746 kilowatts PAGE two 1 kilogram = 2.264 gal 1 HP = 0. ft Cylinder.48 gal/ft3 Reservoir Surface Area. x 7.34 lbs OF FOUR Conversion Factors 1 liter/sec = 15. ft2 In . Time. ft Length.Out In Backwash Rate. ft)2(Height.34 HP 1 HP = 550 ft-lbs/sec 1 meter = 3. V-A (Voltage. cfs Detention time. ft2 43.Area. Width. gpm) (Head. mg/L Circumference of a circle. ft) or 2(π)(Radius. ft Rise. ft2 Distance. ft 1 ft3 water = 7. ac. lbs (Flow. gpm Area. π (Diameter.85 gpm 1 acre = 43. gpm/ft2 Flow.560 ft2/ac Slope = Fall. ft) 3960 Velocity. watts Apparent Power. Width. ft/sec Water Horsepower. ft/sec) (Area. % Solution Strength. volts)(Current. ft2 Temperature Velocity. ft2 Chlorine Dose. ft x Height. ft/sec Velocity. % Weight of Chemical x 100 Weight of Solution Surface Overflow Rate.ft.1416 1 ft3 water = 62. MGD)(Conc. ft)3 6 Conversion Factors Reservoir Volume.547 cfs 1 liter = 0. ac-ft x 43. amp) Grade = Run. (Flow. ft3/sec Area. Rectangle.4 lbs 1 MGD* = 694 gpm 1 MGD = 1. Vol. ft)2 (Height. mg/L)(8. gpd (Velocity. watts Actual Power. ft x Length. HP Sphere. gpd/ft2 Flow.145 psi Tech Brief • Basic Water and Wastewater Formulas. π (Diameter. ft2 Flow.48 gal 1 gal water = 8. gpm/ft2 Filtration Rate. ft2 Circle. gpm Area. ft x Length.28 feet 1 mile = 5280 feet π (Pi) = 3.34 lbs/gal) Power Factor Power. cfs Area. ft)2 π 4 Basic Water and Wastewater Formulas Removal. sec.20 lbs 1 centimeter = 0. mg/L+Free Cl2 Residual. ft) 4 Cone. ft/sec ˚F (1.560 ft2 1 mg/L = 1 ppm 1 psi = 2. ft (Diameter. gal.31 feet of water 1% = 10. 7. ft3 Rectangle. ft) Volume. ft (π)(Diameter. π (Diameter.ft) 12 Flow. Issue 4 .

01 0.48 gallons 50.1 0. calculate the volume of a cylinder.52 x 60) = convert minutes to hours and minutes. 100 12.5 ft3 x 7. calculate what 90% of the total volume would be 12.Powers of Ten Power of Ten 1012 109 106 103 102 10 10-1 10-2 10-3 10-6 10-9 10-12 10-15 10-18 E+12 E+09 E+06 E+03 E+02 E+01 E-01 E-02 E-03 E-06 E-09 E-12 E-15 E-18 E Notation Prefixes and symbols to form decimal multiples and/or submultiples. 8 hours and 21 minutes c.000 1.18 minutes 24 gallons minute Solution: Don’t look at the problem as a whole.000.000.000. (Diameter. 82 π. Decimal Equivalent Prefix Phonic Symbol T G M k h da d c m u n p f a 1. An empty storage tank at standard atmospheric pressure (not under pressurized condition) is 8 feet in diameter and 32 feet high. ft).031. 7 hours and 31 minutes b.000 100 10 0. Instead.5 gallons.000.000.26 ft2 4 4 4 Sixth.26 ft2 x 32 ft high = 1.16(3.828.1416)= 50. calculate time to pump at 24 gallons per minute 10. ft)2 π.001 0.000.52 hours and multiply by 60minutes/hour 7 hours and (0.48 gallons = 12. break it into steps: First.5 ft3 (cubic feet) three OF FOUR The answer is a. this is total ft3 volume tank can hold Fourth.608.50 gallons x . calculate the area of a circle 8 feet in diameter.000.39 gallons = 451.000.828. convert from ft3 (cubic feet) to gallons.001 0.5 gallons x 90%.000. 60 minutes = 1 hour 451. ft)2 π (Height.001 0. 8 hours and 23 minutes d.000.608.000.000.031. 9 hours and 17 minutes 1. 64 π.001 0.000 1.000. How long will it take to fill 90 percent of the tank volume if a pump is discharging a constant 24 gallons per minute into the tank? a.001 0.000.18 minutes = 7. just multiply by the height.001 tera giga mega kilo hecto deka deci centi milli micro nano pico femto atto ter’a ji’ga meg’a kil’o hek’to dek’a des’I sen’ti mil’I mi’kro nan’o pe’ko fem’to at’to Sample Questions 1.2 minutes 7 hours and 31 minutes PAGE Third.000.000.90 = 10. (Diameter. Second.39 gallons Fifth.52 hours 60 minutes hour Now take the . 4 since the area is already calculated.000. 7 hours and 31 minutes NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES CENTER . 1 ft3 water = 7.

2. You also may call NESC at (800) 624-8301.200 gallons. 16 lbs Solution: If a solution strength is not given. Winter 2008. 4. mg/L. How many pounds of a chemical applied at the rate of 3 mg/L are required to dose 200. then use 100% Often more information is given than needed to solve specific problems.75 MGD Chlorinator feed rate is 4. mg/L – Free Cl2 Residual.000 cubic feet b. Thomas J.8 mg/L Solution: If solution strength is not given. lbs equation – (Flow. Calculate the volume. 5 lbs Now plug the givens (known) into the pounds equation Chlorine Dose. your phone number. mg/L = (Cl2 Demand.000 ft3 (cubic feet) 15.2 mg/L c. Environmental Engineering Division. 2003. 20 feet high. Box 6064. How many cubic feet of water will a rectangular tank that is 20-feet long by 15-feet wide and 10-feet high hold? mg/L) + Free Cl2 Residual. Cl2 Demand.wvu. calculate the volume for a rectangular box (L x W x D or H) Length x Width x Depth or Height. The equation to be used is the Chlorine Dose Equation 5. 7. 112. The answer is b. http://www. 5.112. mg/L = 4. and 10 feet deep. item numbers.pdf Cl2 Chlorine Demand.2.200 gallons c. in gallons.Solution: 2. CO. 3. address. U. day) = 5. a. MGD)(Conc. mg/L Solve this Equation for the Chlorine Demand Cl2.000 gallons per day = 0. In this problem. Sample Test Questions. Navy. 15.75 MGD) is not needed.S.vaclassix. 3.8 mg/L The answer is b. 224. Morgantown. Inc.004 lbs The answer is c.48 gallons 75 ft x 20 ft x 10 ft = 15.000 gallons d. use 100% The equation to be used is the pounds.000 gallons? a.000 ft3 x 7. Issue 4 .O. 850 cubic feet d.000 cubic feet 20 ft x 15 ft x 10 ft = 3. this is the tank ft3 volume in gallons The answer is b.2 mg/L 4. 2.000 gallons b. P.0 mg/L Chlorine residual (free) is 1. References: Glover.200 cubic feet Second. Pocket Reference. 3 lbs c. National Environmental Services Center. of a tank that is 75 feet long. 1 lb b.8 mg/L b. convert ft3 (cubic feet) to gallons.0 mg/L – 1. mg/L Cl2 Chlorine 150. OF FOUR If you would like to receive any or all of our free Tech Briefs. The concentration is the rate in this case = 3 mg/L (0.34 lbs/gal) 200. An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution Published by The National Environmental Services Center at West Virginia University. WV 26506-6064 Tech Brief • Basic Water and Wastewater Formulas. 2007.: Littleton.34 lbs/gal.48 gallons = 112. 0. send a request with your name.000 cubic feet c. mg/L = Chlorine Dose.000 ft3 (cubic feet) Calculate the volume for a rectangular box (L x W x D or H) Length x Width x Depth or Height. and number of copies to info@ mail.2 mg/L Virginia Center for Very Small Water Works. 1 ft3 (cubic feet) water = gallons Solution: NESC Engineering Scientist Zane Satterfield is a licensed professional engineer and previously worked for the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health. Basic Water & Wastewater Formulas Product # DWPCOM84.nesc. Physics Formulas notebook sheet.200 gallons 3.8 mg/L a.0 mg/L d. MGD)(3 mg/L)(8. mg/L = 2.000. 1999. 1. Vol. Sequoia Publishing. Calculate the chlorine demand using the following data: Raw water flow is 0. 5 lbs d. the raw water flow rate (0.2 MGD 1. 2. PAGE four First.000 million gallons Convert the flow or gallons to MGD.

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