Field Implementation of Burrowing Animal Deterrents for Earthen Canal Embankments
Research Question: Can wind-powered acoustic emitters, metal mesh liner with noxious plants, or some combination of the two be used to sustainably and cost-effectively deter animals from burrowing into earthen canal embankments?
Each method will have site-specific geotechnical and biological considerations:
Wind - Powered Acoustic Emitter
Considerations with the wind powered acoustic device will include device design, sound transmission in native site soil, and environmental and wildlife effects. The final design device must be able to transmit sound waves through the native soil type with enough energy (at the correct frequency content) to deter native burrowing animal species. The device needs to be remotely deployable/operable with minimal maintenance requirements.
Metal Mesh Liner with Noxious Plants
The metal mesh liner with noxious plants will require attention to materials, native noxious plant species, and coverage on the canal. The type of metal mesh or geotextile must be considered because a rodent may be able to chew through certain materials, but would be deterred by others. Site specific native noxious plant species must be used to avoid introduction of non-native and potentially invasive plant species. Native burrowing animal habitats must be understood in order to effectively cover the canal. Various animal species will have different burrow depths and reside in different areas which could affect the placement of the metal mesh. Seasonal water level fluctuation in the canal will contribute to changes in burrow location as well. The coverage of the metal mesh liner must account for these variables.
Need and Benefit
Animal burrows create seepage paths that can be eroded leading to instability or failure of the embankment. Cases of
canal failure due to rodent burrows have been reported in Mississippi, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, and Texas among
others. Canal embankment failures can have significant consequences, including loss of water supply, property
damage, and loss of life. Currently, there are no sustainable practices for preventing animals from burrowing into
earthen embankments. Existing approaches such as hunting/trapping are only effective in isolated areas, are very
costly, and require a continuous effort to sustain animal mitigation. The S&T prize competition winning solutions need
further development and field testing to scope their potential as appropriate and successful animal burrow deterrent
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