Jared Oswald,Russell Persyn 2016-06-29 04:32:14
A newly installed automated gate within the Belle Fourche Irrigation District. While South Dakota may be best known for Mount Rushmore, a short 80-mile trip north will take you to the historic, though progressive, Belle Fourche Irrigation District (BFID). The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation developed the BFID as one of its first projects under the Reclamation Act of 1902. The primary purpose of the project is irrigation; however, secondary benefits include flood control, fish and wildlife conservation, and recreational opportunities. Water for irrigation is diverted from the Belle Fourche River to the Belle Fourche Reservoir, which holds over 185,000 acre-feet of active conservation storage. The BFID delivers irrigation water to over 57,000 acres of farmland through 94 miles of open canals and 450 miles of ditches. The BFID also has several inverted siphons (that is, a pipe for transporting water through a low spot, resembling the P-trap under your kitchen sink) to help transfer water across the natural drainage valleys, which lie perpendicular to the canals. Innovation via partnership The Belle Fourche Project has a storied past with many lessons; today, it is an example of how innovation through partnership can help solve water quality and quantity issues. In 2004, the BFID, in association with the Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership, participated with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources to complete a water quality study on the amount of total suspended solids (sediment) that enter the adjacent Belle Fourche River. The study determined that reducing the amount of return flow from the irrigation delivery system could eliminate a portion of the sediment entering the river. The BFID contracted with RESPEC, an engineering and consulting firm, to develop an overall water management system. The components of this management system include automation of the check gates (used to control water levels in the canals), head gates, and flow-measurement structures; software to automate the water order and billing system; and software to calculate the water mass balance that is needed to support water orders and compare recommendations to actual measurements. ASABE member Jared Oswald, Manager of the Watershed Management Group at RESPEC, was the team leader for the project. The RESPEC team started the project by meeting with BFID staff to study the current operations. To begin with ... The first component developed for the water management system was automated control of the check gates and monitoring of the flow-measurement structures throughout the BFID. The automated check gates use pressure transducers and gate actuators in combination with dataloggers with programmable algorithms to maintain a constant upstream water level. The flow-measurement structures (such as weirs and flumes) are monitored by using pressure transducers connected to dataloggers that convert the water depth in the structure to flow. The information from the check gates and flow-measurement structures is relayed to the BFID office via a radio network and then uploaded to a secure remote server so that the system can be monitored and controlled by BFID staff in the office or with a smartphone. The Vale Ditch provides an example of the efficiencies that can be achieved through automation. In 2006, the Vale Ditch was converted from manual operation to an automated check gate that works in conjunction with a real-time automated flow-measurement structure. The automated system provides a significant improvement in maintaining a constant water level and consistent water delivery, while eliminating significant water losses. And secondly ... The second component of the water management system was the development of a water order and billing system. Before the water management system was developed, the BFID operated the canals manually and performed all calculations by hand to determine water orders, water billing, and dam releases. This process was extremely labor-intensive, and it led to inefficiencies in transporting water from the dam to farmers’ fields. The new system allows BFID staff to enter the water orders gathered from area farmers into a database. The custom software then calculates the daily total of water to be delivered for each canal section and provides a breakdown per farmer of the amount of water that is currently being delivered, when future amounts will be delivered, and when deliveries will be shut off. The information from the water orders is then automatically entered into the billing records. The billing records are used to track the amount of water that individual farmers use and the amount remaining in each of their accounts. Third and last The third component of the water management system is the dam-release calculator. The calculator uses aspects of the first two components to produce a comprehensive report and recommend daily releases from Orman Dam, which is the source of the BFID. Included in the report are real-time readings from the automated gates and flow-measurement structures. This summary provides BFID staff with an overview of current conditions throughout the entire irrigation delivery system. The daily recommended dam release is determined by totaling the water orders for each canal section and then estimating the lag time, or the time needed for water to travel from the dam to the delivery point. BFID staff can then compare the recommendation to the real-time data reported by the system and adjust the release to fit current conditions. The new water management system provides timely information to support daily decision-making, and it allows BFID staff to manage the entire system and compensate for the fluctuations in delivery caused by rainfall, heat, or equipment malfunctions. The work has been comprehensive, and it has relied on expertise from the farmers, BFID staff, RESPEC, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the USDA-NRCS to deliver irrigation innovation and significant reductions in sediment entering the watershed. ASABE member Jared Oswald, P.E., Manager of the Watershed Management Group, and ASABE member Russell Persyn, P.E., Texas Area Manager, RESPEC, Rapid City, S.D., USA, email@example.com, www.respec.com.
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