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Channel-to-pipe conversions improve water use efficiency, decrease energy and minimize capital costs




Duncker, Alana, author
Frey, Jeffery P., author
Gransbury, John, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Irrigators in Australia have suffered severe drought conditions for a number of years which has focused their attention on water efficiency measures. Many irrigation systems are moving away from the use of inefficient open channel irrigation systems in favor of pressure pipe networks to reduce losses due to seepage and evaporation. Murrumbidgee Irrigation in New South Wales utilized an innovative optimization approach that enabled significant improvements in the economic viability and environmental sustainability of its channels-to-pipe conversion. In designing a large-scale irrigation or stock and domestic pipe networks, there are many decisions that need to be made to satisfactorily achieve the design criteria - to satisfy customer and environmental demands, minimum allowable pressure, maximum allowable velocity, etc. It is also desirable that the design decisions are made so these criteria are achieved at the least possible cost to society and the environment. Once the objectives and criteria have been defined, the basic decisions that are made when designing a hydraulic network include the location of pipes, pump stations, valves and delivery points; the size, material and class of each pipe segment in the network; and the capacity and pumping regime of each pump station in the network. In contrast to a traditional trial-and-error simulation analysis to design its pipe network, Murrumbidgee Irrigation elected to utilize an optimization approach that investigated hundreds of thousands of trial solutions to determine a least-cost network that satisfied the stated objectives. The resulting design exhibited better hydraulic performance and significantly reduced capital, operating and environmental costs.


Presented at the fifth international conference on irrigation and drainage, Irrigation and drainage for food, energy and the environment on November 3-6, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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