The flow in rivers is turbulent. The main parameter related to turbulence in rivers is the eddy viscosity, which is used to model a turbulent flow and is involved in the determination of both velocities and sediment concentrations. A well-known and largely used vertical distribution of eddy viscosity in free surface flows (open channels and rivers) is given by the parabolic profile that is based on the logarithmic velocity profile assumption and is valid therefore only in the log-law layer. It was improved thanks to the log-wake law velocity profile. These two eddy viscosities are obtained from velocity profiles, and the main shortcoming of the log-wake profile is the empirical Coles’ parameter. A more rigorous and reliable analytical eddy viscosity model is needed. In this study, we present two analytical eddy viscosity models based on the concepts of velocity and length scales, which are related to the exponentially decreasing turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) function and mixing length, namely, (1) the exponential-type profile of eddy viscosity and (2) an eddy viscosity based on an extension of von Karman’s similarity hypothesis. The eddy viscosity from the second model is
-independent, while the eddy viscosity from the first model is
is the friction Reynolds number). The proposed analytical models were validated through computation of velocity profiles, obtained from the resolution of the momentum equation and comparisons to experimental data. With an additional correction function related to the damping effect of turbulence near the free surface, both models are similar to the log-wake-modified eddy viscosity profile but with different values of the Coles’ parameter, i.e.,
for the first model and
for the second model. These values are similar to those found in open-channel flow experiments. This provides an explanation about the accuracy of these two analytical models in the outer part of free surface flows. For large values of
> 2000), the first model becomes
independent, and the two coefficients reach asymptotic values. Finally, the two proposed eddy viscosity models are validated by experimental data of eddy viscosity.