Demonstration of Synthestic Sheet Piles to Improvement Canal Safety

Project ID: 1700
Principal Investigator: Chris Ellis
Research Topic: Improving Geotechnical Infrastructure Reliability
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017 and 2018
Keywords: None

Research Question

Are synthetic sheet piles an appropriate measure to address embankment flaws (i.e. animal burrows and tree root systems)? Are synthetic sheet piles feasible to reduce lateral seepage losses?
What are the appropriate soil conditions for synthetic sheet piles? Can the sheet piles be driven through tree root systems?
Is there the potential for installation damage in gravelly/cobbly embankment and foundation soils?
Can synthetic sheet piles be installed by a water district's maintenance staff or is a specialty contractor required? Are synthetic sheet piles an appropriate emergency response measure for a developing seepage related issue?
Are there any changes in seepage conditions at the terminal end of the sheet pile wall alignment (i.e. end around effects)?
Is there an increased potential for wetting and then sloughing of the canal's interior slope during shutdown following installation of synthetic sheet piles?

Need and Benefit

Need: Reclamation has the responsibility of delivering water to its customers safely and efficiently. Synthetic sheet piles have the potential to both improve water conveyance safety and reduce lateral seepage losses.
This project directly addressed Reclamation's "Research Roadmaps and Needs Assessment (Infrastructure and Safety, Research Priorities to Enhance Canals Infrastructure Sustainability)"
Benefit: Reclamation owns over 8,000 miles of canals. Nearly all of Reclamation's canal systems are decades old and are requiring repair. Operations and maintenance activities during the early years of operation have led to the development of embankment flaws (i.e. animal burrows and tree root systems) which lead to a number of failures or incidents each year. Synthetic sheet piles have the potential to improve canal embankments by cutting off these flaws.
Where a positive cutoff can be made in the foundation, synthetic sheet piles can be used to reduce lateral seepage losses. Lateral seepage losses may also be reduced without a positive foundation cutoff.
Results of this study will provide information to Reclamation's area representatives and to its water districts regarding

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Demonstration of Synthestic Sheet Piles to Improvement Canal Safety (final, PDF, 26.1MB)
By Chris Ellis
Research Product completed on September 30, 2018

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17