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Drive stakes in the river at various places and note the time required for a chip to float from one stake to another. If we know the distance between the stakes and the time required for the chip to float from one stake to another, the velocity of the water can be readily determined.

The width of the stream from bank to bank is easily measured, and the depth is obtained in the ordinary way by sounding; it is necessary to take a number of soundings because the bed of the river is by no means level, and soundings taken at only one level would not give an accurate estimate. If the soundings show the following depths: 30, 25, 20, 32, 28, the average depth could be taken as 30 + 25 + 20 + 32 + 28 ÷ 5, or 27 feet. If, as a result of measuring, the river at a given point in its course is found to be 27 feet deep and 60 feet wide, the area of a cross section at that spot would be 1620 square feet, and if the velocity proved to be 6 feet per second, then the quantity of water passing in any one second would be 1620 × 6, or 9720 cubic feet. By experiment it has been found that 1 cu. ft. of water weighs about 62.5 lb. The weight of the water passing each second would therefore be 62.5 × 9720, or 607,500 lb. If this quantity of water plunges over a 10-ft. dam, it does 607,500 × 10, or 6,075,000 foot pounds of work per second, or 11,045 H.P. Such a stream would be very valuable for the running of machinery.