We provide an efficient method to estimate processing rates through simple algebraic relationships derived from the transient storage model equations. The method is based on the transport equations, but eliminates the need to calibrate highly uncertain (and intermediate) parameters. We demonstrate that under some common stream transport conditions dispersion does not play an important role in the estimation of processing rates and, therefore, can be neglected. Under such conditions, no computer modeling is needed to estimate processing rates. We also derive algebraic equations to estimate processing rates of target solutes (such as dissolved oxygen) with proxy-tracers (such as resazurin), and show that even if both the target and proxy reactions happen in exactly the same locations at rates that are linearly proportional, the exact relationship between the two volume-averaged rates can be nonlinear and a function of transport. However, the uncertainty in the estimation of the target processing rate is linearly proportional to the proxy-tracer processing rate.