Canal Operation & Maintenance Guidelines

Reclamation has developed these materials and associated training to help Reclamation and operating entities effectively manage canals and other Reclamation assets. Our regularly issued Water Operation and Maintenance bulletins provide useful tips and guidance on a wide range of topics for water and irrigation districts.

Canal Operator Materials

This discretionary guidance helps canal operators promote safe and effective operations and maintenance (O&M) for canal systems. Printed manual and posters are available on request.

Canal Operator Manual

A basic O&M primer and introduction
Explains why canal operators are important. Covers basic operations (watering up, operating, drawing down, etc.) and maintenance (vegetation, animals, people, seepage, plugs, mechanical canal maintenance, etc.). Reviews inspections, documentation, and public safety. Get Canal Operator Manual

Canal Operation and Maintenance Manuals

This discretionary guidance helps irrigation and water districts to identify O&M issues and to plan, budget, and prioritize actions to address these issues. These manuals are available as a notebook or as a set of individual booklets for field use on request.


Coatings and Cathodic Protection
Photo of man in personal protective equipment applying a coating. Cover of the Coatings and Cathodic Protection Manual.
Use coatings and cathodic protection to avoid corrosion
Describes how to protect infrastructure with coatings and cathodic protection (CP). Preventing infrastructure corrosion requires the right type of protection used the right way. While it is important to consult the experts for particular situations, a general understanding of protective coatings and cathodic protection will help plan actions to prevent and address corrosion.
Get Canal O&M: Coatings and Cathodic Protection Manual.

Photo of overgrown vegetation hiding pipe and other obstructions. Cover of the Vegetation Manual.
Address vegetation early and often so it does not overtake canal systems.
Covers recommendations for vegetation management and control—from preventing vegetation from overtaking canal systems to what to do when vegetation becomes a problem. The manual covers regular maintenance (such as mowing) and periodic maintenance (such as tree removal and repair).
Get Canal O&M: Vegetation Manual.

Photo of a muskrat and spray-painted burrows in a breached embankment. Cover of the Animal Manual.
Look out for animals moving in.
Explains when animals can threaten the canal system and how to discourage incursions and address problems. The manual also covers repairs after animals are eradicated. 
Get Canal O&M: Animal Manual.

Concrete Lining and Structure
Photo of a broken concrete canal lining with vegetation. Cover of Concrete Manual.
Keep concrete lining and structures in good repair. 
Provides a background on common concrete issues, how to identify problem areas, and how to repair concrete. This guidance on repairing concrete will help your structures to continue to function reliably. 
Get Canal O&M: Concrete Lining and Structure Manual.

Photo of a breached embankment. Cover of Embankment Manual.
Watch for seepage and canal breaches. 
Explains the three most common causes of seepage and canal breaches: seepage through the embankment and foundation, slope instability, and surface erosion. It also provides pictures of typical issues and ways to detect, identify, and prevent problems from reaching catastrophic levels. 
Get Canal O&M: Embankments Manual.

Mechanical Equipment
Photo of a pump and inset for detail. Cover of Mechanical Manual.
Extend lifecycles and keep running with good maintenance. 
Covers general issues such as corrosion, coatings, and lubrication as well as specific guidance for operating, inspecting, testing, and maintaining equipment (such as gates and valves, pumps, as well as electrical systems). 
Get Canal O&M: Mechanical Equipment Manual.

Safety Posters
Click on each page-size poster:

Keep alert!
Herbicide tips
What to do when you see seepage
What to do in a breach
Job Hazard Analyses
New developments
Financial assistance
Healthy budgets
Or get the whole packet.


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