Welcome to the Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit
Glad you could drop by! The purpose of this site is to introduce you to the Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit (HERU), the research conducted here, and the people who make it happen. This unit is one part of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, located in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
About the Research Unit
The Hydraulic Engineering research Unit has been in continuous operation since it was established in 1940. A large gravity flow water supply and ample land area makes the laboratory unique among hydraulic laboratories. The Unit's laboratory occupies 40.5 hectares (100 acres) of open land with sufficient slope so that the fall required for experiments can be obtained. Water for experiments is drawn from adjoining Lake Carl Blackwell at rates from a trickle flow up to 3.7 cubic meters per second (130 cubic feet per second). Canals and pipelines convey the flow to the experiments. The laboratory has four model buildings where indoor experiments are conducted. The laboratory's southern location permits outdoor experimentation almost year-round.
The laboratory has had a major impact on soil and water conservation engineering and is recognized nationally and internationally as a significant contributor of sound design criteria for soil and water conservation structures and channels. Most notable is the pioneer work in the design concepts for vegetated waterways. This research resulted in the laboratory being recognized as an "Historic Landmark of Agricultural Engineering" by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers in 1990.
The Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit conducts research to:
Develop criteria for design and analysis of safe, economical structures and channels for the conveyance, storage, disposal, and measurement of runoff water;
Develop basic knowledge of the hydraulics of surface water flows for use in planning measures needed for environmentally appropriate control of runoff water and/or assessing the safety and efficiency of existing measures; and
Determine the ability of vegetation, riprap, and/or various manufactured materials to protect hydraulic structures and channels from erosion.
Some research is oriented to specific studies, but the primary goal is to conduct generalized research that can be applied nationally and internationally by both public and private agencies without further testing. Close cooperation is maintained with the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS: formerly the Soil Conservation Service) to ensure that the research needs of the USDA are met. The research is generally application oriented, but because some of the research needs extend beyond the current limits of scientific knowledge, sufficient basic research is conducted to provide a scientific basis for the applied work. Some of the specific objectives of the research effort are outlined below:
- Develop improved relations for predicting performance of vegetated earth embankments subjected to overtopping.
- Improve understanding of the overall erosion process as it relates to structures and channels subjected to large hydraulic stresses.
- Utilize evolving technology to develop tools for designing small-scale control/stabilization measures.
- Assist the Natural Resources Conservation Service in implementing research results.
- Develop criteria for the design and analysis of erosion and water control structures.