Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/14/2015
Publication Date: 2/23/2016
Publication URL: https://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62691
Citation: Wren, D.G., Ozeren, Y., Reba, M.L. 2016. Measuring the erosion of an irrigation reservoir levee. Transactions of the ASABE. 59(1):41-48. doi: 10.13031/trans.59.10751.
Interpretive Summary: Increasing demands on limited groundwater resources have created a growing need for the development of surface water resources for irrigation. Reservoirs can be used for this purpose, but levees can be rapidly eroded by both wind-driven waves and surface runoff if they are not properly protected. Measurements of erosion made using an advanced, laser-based system were made on an irrigation reservoir in east-central Arkansas. The measurements showed that up to 3 meters in levee width were lost to wind-driven waves over a seven month period between December 2012 and July 2013. The damage was most severe in the northeast corner, which coincided with the longest fetch length and prevailing southerly winds.
Technical Abstract: Increasing demands on limited groundwater resources in the Arkansas and Mississippi alluvial floodplain (commonly called the Delta) have created a growing need for the development of surface water resources for irrigation. On-farm reservoirs, along with tail-water recovery systems, are used to store and re-use water for irrigation and provide a means for reducing dependence on groundwater supplies. The earthen embankments that make up the levee system are typically constructed from local soils that are often low in clay content and cohesion. Rapid erosion of the interior slopes of these structures due to wind-induced wave erosion, combined with the cost of maintenance after the practice is implemented, can be a primary barrier for producers who are considering developing a surface water irrigation system. Measurements of levee erosion in a typical irrigation reservoir in east-central Arkansas were made using a ground-based LIDAR system and used to quantify erosion and estimate maintenance costs for irrigation reservoir levees. Approximately 1350 m^3 of soil loss was measured from a 1,530 m long levee during a seven month period between December 2012 and July 2013. The damage was most severe in the northeast corner, which coincided with the longest fetch length and prevailing southerly winds. Over three meters of levee width were lost over multiple sections of the levee, with the greatest losses concentrated on the east end of the north levee. A summary of wind and wave measurements from the reservoir are also included.