Knowledge of the hydraulic behaviour is very important in the characterization of a stabilization pond, since pond hydrodynamics plays a fundamental role in treatment efficiency. An advanced hydrodynamics characterization may be achieved by carrying out measurements with tracers, dyes and drogues or using mathematical simulation employing computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The current study involved experimental determinations and mathematical simulations of a full-scale facultative pond in Brazil. A 3D CFD model showed major flow lines, degree of dispersion, dead zones and short circuit regions in the pond. Drogue tracking, wind measurements and dye dispersion were also used in order to obtain information about the actual flow in the pond and as a means of assessing the performance of the CFD model. The drogue, designed and built as part of this research, and which included a geographical positioning system (GPS), presented very satisfactory results. The CFD modelling has proven to be very useful in the evaluation of the hydrodynamic conditions of the facultative pond. A virtual tracer test allowed an estimation of the real mean hydraulic retention time and mixing conditions in the pond. The computational model in CFD corresponded well to what was verified in the field.

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