Evaluation and Standardization of Seepage Repair Methodologies

Project ID: 4861
Principal Investigator: Julia Pierko
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013
Keywords: o&m, planning, seepage, canals, embankments, canal foundations, inspection, repair, guidance

Research Question

The inspection of urbanized canals performed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and routine field interactions by Reclamation's Facilities Operation and Maintenance (O&M) staff has revealed that a wide range of methodologies are being used by Reclamation operating entities to repair areas where seepage is occurring through a canal embankment and/or foundation. Each operating entity is comfortable with a familiar method and may use it universally, regardless of its limitations or site-specific constraints. Reclamation has not evaluated these methods at any level and does not have standardized guidance for their use.
Reclamation needs to investigate and evaluate different seepage repair methods in practice, including their applicability, durability, reliability, defensibility, and relative cost-effectiveness. Reclamation's staff also need to document and better understand the range of the operating entity's capabilities required to execute different repair methods in relatively short time frames and/or under active operation.
A basis for determining long-term canal O&M management requirements exists. Guidance to address situational repairs does not exist. It is unknown whether Reclamation-wide guidance would be useful, rather than the existing case-by-case basis approach. Would a guidance document on canal seepage repair methodologies supplemented with Reclamation's technical assistance best fulfill our O&M mission responsibilities and inform our contractors?

The goal is to develop general guidance to assist our operating entities in their current efforts with seepage repair and mitigation. We anticipate that the final outcome of this process, developed either with S&T support or not, would ultimately provide science-based guidance as to which methods are most applicable to Reclamation facilities, under what circumstances they should be used, and what methods are not acceptable under a given set of circumstances.

Need and Benefit

Reclamation's overall objective is to help to ensure the safety for the general public and operating entities during and after repairs, optimize the effectiveness of repairs, and minimize overall liability and costs. Avoided future costs and more reliable canal infrastructure are potential benefits resulting from development of guidance documentation. There are many factors to be considered when determining which methods are most appropriate to repair or mitigate a seepage situation. These include, but are not limited to, magnitude of the repair, surrounding land use, extent of potential hazards and population at risk, general conditions, slope, and soil and lining type (if lined).

A comprehensive approach also may be useful in informing overall O&M investment and funding strategies.

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.

Inspecting Reclamation Canals in New Ways (final, PDF, 809KB)
By Nathaniel Gee
Publication completed on September 30, 2015

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

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Last Updated: 6/22/20