Demonstration of USACE Corrosion Protection System Inspection and Monitoring Advancements
Reclamation has recently collaborated with USACE-ERDC on several projects aimed at improving the efficacy of corrosion control programs for hydraulic steel structures (HSS). This research will facilitate continued collaboration on two efforts currently being implemented on lock gates at USACE: state of the art remote monitoring of corrosion and cathodic protection systems and safe underwater inspection. We will leverage knowledge and funding of the two organizations to determine how to proactively and effectively implement corrosion control programs on Reclamation's inventory of HSS.
The first area of collaboration is in remote monitoring of cathodic protection (CP) systems. USACE has installed a state-of-the-art custom system based on commercially available components on the miter gates at Selden Lock and Dam. The gates have impressed current cathodic protection installed, and the monitoring system is able to read and record data from up to three rectifiers and two reference cells. This data is transferred to an online user interface which can be remotely accessed to determine the health of the CP system. The reference cells claim a 30-year service life and are capable of measuring polarized potential and the current density of the steel. A second system will be installed at The Dalles Lock and Holt Lock this fall. USACE has extended funding to continue use of this equipment and evaluate factors such as robustness of the system and ease of use. Reclamation researchers will visit these sites with their USACE collaborators to learn how to install and operate the monitoring systems and sensors, as well as participate in analyzing the online data, with the goal of providing recommendations for installation on Reclamation infrastructure.
The second area of collaboration is in safe underwater condition assessment of HSS, such as gates and tanks. HSS are susceptible to protective coating loss and corrosion, and many lack sufficient dewatered access for pe
Need and Benefit
Reclamation-wide, there are HSS that cannot be dewatered, and therefore the extent of corrosion of the steel and the
condition of the protective coating cannot be adequately assessed below the waterline. Examples include spillway
gates and distribution and regulating tanks. Many of these structures are critical to the integrity of the dams and
hydropower plants and water conveyance systems. Currently, these structures are either not assessed at all, rely on
infrequent and costly dive team inspections, or they must be shut down and dewatered at a loss of time and money to
The technology developed at USACE would greatly benefit Reclamation by first providing a safe and thorough tool for
underwater corrosion condition assessments. The visual output of the crawler would clearly show problem areas on a
structure and help facility managers plan corrosion control activities such as protective coating repairs or installation of
a CP system. For that structures where CP systems are a necessary component of the corrosion control plan, the
remote monitoring units that are being field-tested by USACE would provide a holistic corrosion prevention
assessment to inform facility personnel on the status of the corrosion prevention systems without dewatering, on-site
inspection, or other costly maintenance tasks.
If this research were not funded, Reclamation would lose a valuable opportunity to help develop and shape state of
the art technologies in the field of corrosion control, as well as to expand our knowledge base and technical expertise.
Corrosion engineers at Reclamation would continue to rely on proven yet inefficient methods for inspecting HSS and
assessing the performance of CP systems.
Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.
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 USACE Corrosion
Protection System Inspection and
Monitoring Advancements (final, PDF, 6.1MB)
By Grace Weber
Report completed on September 30, 2021