AbstractAccurate interpretation of longitudinal dispersion of solutes within distribution pipes increases the reliability of the predictions of water distribution systems (WDS) water quality analysis models. However, the estimation of longitudinal dispersion from fundamental principles is complicated. Thus, a longitudinal diffusion coefficient, a nonphysical constant depending on the flow and pipe properties, is generally applied to characterize the dispersion mechanism during the advective-dispersive-reactive (ADR) modeling in WDS. Many empirical/semiempirical formulas exist for calculating the coefficient values. Several of them have been applied in WDS water quality modeling research also. However, these formulas have shortcomings concerning overestimating and/or underestimating the longitudinal dispersion coefficient value under transitional/turbulent flow regimes and depicting the transient nature of longitudinal dispersion under laminar flow settings. As yet, no effort has been made to comparatively analyze the implications of the performance of these formulas in ADR modeling in WDS. This paper attempted to critically examine the competence of the prevailing state of the art to accurately represent longitudinal dispersion in pipes from a WDS water quality modeling perspective. The results established that the conceptual dissimilarities in incorporating dispersion memory and transient characteristics between the formulas for laminar regimes have significant impacts on regulating the scale of longitudinal dispersion in the ADR model predictions. The relative variances between the formulas for transitional/turbulent flow settings were found comparatively less significant concerning the ADR model outputs. This study’s findings can advance the state of the art to minimize the failure risks involved in simulating the concentration profiles when dispersive transport is dominant over advection in WDS.