Submitted to: Congress of International Association for Hydraulic Research Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 19, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Water is becoming a scarce resource, and agricultural water users are under pressure to use water more judiciously. For many large irrigation projects, the physical infrastucture that delivers water to users influences their ability to manage the water supplied to them. Most large water delivery systems convey and distribute water with canals rather than pipelines. For large-scale systems, canals are an order of magnitude less expensive than pipelines. Infrastucture improvements (e.g., conversion to pressurized pipelines) are typically very expensive relative to changes in operations. Operations can be improved by providing canal operators with better tools for determining control actions. One such tool is the use of automatic controls. Full canal automation implies control of canal gates from computers or microprocessors. A number of new theories have recently been proposed for such computerized control, but none have been implemented. This paper provides a progress report on cooperative research being conducted to bring this technology into the marketplace. Studies on applying this technology are being conducted with two irrigation districts. A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement was established with a vendor of canal automation equipment in order to commercialize the technology developed. This research will benefit water delivery projects and their clients.
The automation of irrigation distribution canals in central Arizona promises to improve water-delivery service to farmers, reduce operating costs, and improve distribution efficiency (i.e., reduce unaccounted for losses). Testing and implementation of canal automation is being carried out with two irrigation projects in Central Arizona, the Salt River Project (SRP) and the Maricopa Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District (MSIDD). Also, a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) was initiated with Automata, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic sensing and control systems, for developing a canal automation product line. Implementation of canal automation within these two projects will demonstrate the capabilities and limitations of this technology. The cooperation with Automata will put this technology (software and hardware) into the marketplace and allow more straightforward application to other irrigation districts.