Theoretical analysis of wing dike impact on river flood stages

Fredrik Huthoff*, Nicholas Pinter, Jonathan W.F. Remo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The question of whether wing dikes (bank-perpendicular river training structures or groynes) cause higher flood levels has been debated in the United States for many years. Some researchers point to empirical data that show large stage increases which are associated with wing dike construction, whereas other researchers have suggested that such increases are contrary to engineering theory. In a recent report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (USGAO) presented this question as a priority to be resolved by engineers and scientists. As a first step to better understand the connection between navigation structures and flood levels on the Middle Mississippi River (MMR), a simplified theoretical analysis is presented to test the assertion (made in the USGAO report and elsewhere) that such increases are contrary to hydraulic theory. This analysis predicts that wing dike construction may lead to water level lowering for in-bank flows and to water level increases for out-of-bank (flood) flows. This confirms that, in principle, wing dikes may have contributed to the observed flood water level trends in the MMR. More detailed follow-up studies are required to accurately quantify the impact of wing dikes on flood levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-556
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of hydraulic engineering (Reston)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Flood mitigation
  • Flood risk
  • Mississippi
  • River hydraulics
  • Wing dikes


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