Modelling supply channel seepage and analysing the effectiveness mitigation options

Taylor, David (2016) Modelling supply channel seepage and analysing the effectiveness mitigation options. [USQ Project]

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Australia relies heavily on irrigation channels to supply water to farms away from natural water sources. Water is a precious resource for these remote communities, so water lost to channel seepage is money lost. Many channels already have seepage mitigation measures such as a polymer membrane lining or compacted clay, but there is some speculation into the cost effectiveness of implementing such measures. There is a knowledge gap in Australian channel projects into the end result of cost effectiveness for seepage mitigation. This project aims to help fill that gap to give planners a more comprehensive guide on seepage mitigation options.

This study focuses on the creation of a model to analyse seepage in supply channels and the associated costs with implementing various seepage mitigation methods. Seepage is analysed in three different ways for easy comparison which are, seepage values for soil types found from existing research, a seepage estimate from the U.S. created Moritz formula and finally the a site specific seepage value which can be measured or calculated by other means. The model seeks to find any net benefits gained from implementing seepage mitigation.

Three case studies were chosen in this study for the purposes of testing the model in a real world scenario. Two Queensland channels were chosen, one in the Bundaberg region and one near the township of St George, and one channel was chosen in Victoria near the town of Birchip.

From the testing of the case studies, it was found that there were large inconsistencies between the estimated values for seepage and the measured values on site. The model overestimated seepage losses by a factor of 10 or more in most cases. It was concluded that desktop approaches for seepage estimation should not be used for Australian channels until more sufficient seepage data exists. It is essential to have a measured seepage value for a proposed site before any seepage mitigation is considered.

The cost effectiveness results of the tested case studies all presented with very high negative net benefits. No costs were found to be any lower than at least $10,000 per ML of water saved. Significant economic gains would have to be found elsewhere for any of the case studies to be considered as an economically viable project for seepage mitigation.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Major Civil Engineering project
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Baillie, Justine
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 01:40
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2017 01:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: irrigation channels; polymer membrane lining; Moritz formula; seepage mitigation; knowledge gap; economically viable project
Fields of Research (2008): 09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090502 Construction Engineering
Fields of Research (2020): 40 ENGINEERING > 4005 Civil engineering > 400504 Construction engineering

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