Self-Assembled Low-Cost Electronic Continuous Flow Meter

Project ID: 3024
Principal Investigator: Tom Gill
Research Topic: Agriculture Water Supplies
Funded Fiscal Years: 2006 and 2007
Keywords: None

Research Question

This proposal would seek to answer two questions:

* Can a reliable low-cost flow monitoring device be developed for agricultural water deliveries compatible with both critical flow and submerged orfice measurement structures?

* Would users embrace an "assemble-it-yourself" system--following a Reclamation-developed "cookbook" instructions and utilizing Reclamation-developed software downloadable from the internet at no cost--if the self-assembled system provided significant cost savings over alternatives equipment while providing comparable service?

An appropriate combination of these questions would be:

* How can Reclamation help improve affordability of flow monitoring technologies in a way that can positively impact advancement of flow monitoring capabilities for agricultural water delivery systems?

Need and Benefit

Technologies are commercially available for monitoring open channel flow rates at critical-flow measurement structures. Affordability is a key limitation for agricultural water delivery systems in the expansion of flow measurement monitoring capabilities. The "self-assembly" approach of this project was suggested to the Water Resources Research Laboratory (WRRL) by Mark Niblack of Reclamation's Yuma Area Office as a means of reducing initial costs as well as operation and maintenance (O&M) costs of basic flow monitoring equipment. This approach recognizes that successful deployment of electronic water management technologies will to a large degree be a function of the level of the in-house expertise with modernization technologies that a water district is able to maintain. Development of the self-assembly methodology for this comparatively simple instrument could also play a role as a training tool in helping districts develop expertise in working with electronic canal modernization technologies.

In addition to improved affordability, an objective of this project would be to provide flow monitoring capability at either critical-flow structures--where a single water level measurement is needed or at submerged-flow measurement structures (i.e. submerged orifice turnouts or meter gates)--where measurement of two water levels is required. At a number of sites where measurement is needed, it is not feasible to install a critical-flow device due to limited head availability or other constraints such as limited space availability. Numerous sites on Reclamation projects are equipped with various types of submerged orifice turnouts such as meter gates or constant head orifice turnouts.

Additionally, there are numerous sites on Reclamation projects where structures designed for critical flow measurement are subject to excessive submergence and where accurate flow determination requires measurement of two water levels. Pre-programmed commercially available equipment for flow monitoring flow at measurement structures are predominantly set up for single-level measurement at critical-flow structures. Currently, flow monitoring for a submerged measurement typically requires a custom installation with development of program code specific to the site. Pre-programmed functionality for installation at flow measurement structures requiring either one or two level measurements would reduce the cost and effort required to install flow monitoring equipment at numerous measurement sites in Reclamation projects.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17