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From canyons to canals: applying regulated river research to canal bank analysis




Travis, Brent, author
Wahlin, Brian, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Numerous studies have analyzed river bank dynamic porewater responses to regulated flows. This research has been found to be critical to understanding not only river inflows and outflows from groundwater sources, but also bank failures as a result of flow scheduling. Although the success of these models comes largely from further developing advancements in other related fields, likewise transfer of the research to other related fields has been slow. In response, this paper extends a recently developed analytical porewater pressure response model, utilized to advise flow scheduling in the Grand Canyon, to analyze irrigation canal leakage and resulting large scale groundwater reactions. The new model directly accounts for canal bank geometry, driving upstream and / or downstream water tables, and time varied irrigation flow schedules given by any piecewise continuous function. This model can be used to analyze both near and far hydraulic effects, executes quickly, and is easy to implement on any spreadsheet program. The model showed good agreement between predicted and measured canal leakage and resulting downstream water table changes for the Interstate Canal in Nebraska. Recommendations are made for further uses of the model.


Presented at Emerging challenges and opportunities for irrigation managers: energy, efficiency and infrastructure: a USCID water management conference held on April 26-29, 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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