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Low Cost Structures in

Micro-Hydroelectric Power
Generation
by

Sivasakthy Selvakumaran (SID)


Fourth-year undergraduate project in Group D
2009/2010

"I hereby declare that, except where specifically indicated, the work submitted herein is
my own original work."
Signed:

Date:

Low Cost Structures in Micro-Hydroelectric Power Generation

Technical Abstract
Motivations and fieldwork
This report performs an analysis, evaluation and systemisation of techniques used in the
construction of micro-hydroelectric systems by Practical Action in Cajamarca, Peru. The systems
make use of the potential energy of water as it flows across the mountainside. Water is diverted
by an intake structure, from a stream or river into a channel. The gravitational force of falling
water drives a water turbine and generator. Practical Action work in some of the most
mountainous regions of Peru. The geography of the area provides many challenges, including
transportation, limited infrastructure and energy supply, and both drought and flooding events.
My time in Cajamarca was split between desk-based research at the Practical Action offices in
Peru, and field survey at micro-hydroelectric system sites. Project objectives and evidence of the
problems that exist were discussed with engineers and local people. A sample of microhydroelectric power sites were analysed including systems of different sizes, and projects under
construction as well as in operation. Work was undertaken in Spanish.

Analysis and conclusions


It was proposed to undertake an analysis of a micro-hydroelectric scheme with a focus on the
intake structure and the channels. The proposed improvements to the civil works would increase
some costs but these are offset through efficiencies in reduced material usage and reduced costs
over the lifecycle of the schemes.
Issues identified with the intake included lack of reinforcing steel combined with low strength
concrete. A program was developed to provide an efficient design of the intake structure and to
check suitability in terms of stability, sliding and other design considerations. The design
program is simple and easy to understand; it allows design variations and provides estimated
costs for the system components. Design options for the intake structure, other than a
reinforced concrete, have been assessed, and developed into alternative solutions for
consideration by Practical Action. These include low cost structures of gabion or masonry walls
that are considered as appropriate technology. These walls have a dual function of acting as the
intake structure and aiding with stability of the adjacent slopes.
Issues identified with the channels included some cracking and the collapse or destruction of the
channels due to slope failure. The channels conveying water to the turbines in microi
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hydroelectric systems are relatively small and do not pose any significant structural issues. For
these types of systems, the primary purpose of the channel lining is to avoid losses of water by
infiltration and to protect the base and the slopes of the channel against erosion caused by the
flow velocity. In terms of the structural integrity, the thickness of the wall can be reduced to the
minimum within the practical functionality and without running significant risks.
As a direct result of the observations and analysis it was concluded that the slope stability was a
major influence in the effectiveness of both the intake structure and the channels. It was
therefore decided to investigate the behaviour of the surrounding slopes and their effect on the
infrastructure of concern.
Various means to improve slope stability were investigated and some design guidelines are
suggested for appropriate solutions (such as gabion walls). A significant factor contributing to
the slope instability is the build up of water pressures in the soil which exert significant forces on
the structures as well as interrupting the water supply to the turbine. To address this risk, the
provision of land drainage features was considered.

Further work
An important part of this research is the transfer of knowledge. This means that approved and
improved technology can be developed and implemented, avoiding potential risks and improving
reliability of the systems.
A practical guide is being developed in order to clearly illustrate the issues identified through this
research project and mitigation measures. This covers potential design options, early warnings
and prevention of failures from the point of view of the local people who are responsible for the
building and maintenance. A technical report is being produced, in Spanish, with the results of
this research and suggestions for improvements to the micro-hydroelectric works.
If any of the suggestions made prove to be appropriate or worthwhile to Practical Action to trial
or implement, I would be interested in returning to Cajamarca, Peru to help with the
development and assess how the effective they prove to be.

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Acknowledgements
Firstly, I would like to thank ITDG: Soluciones Prcticas (Practical Action) in Peru for hosting
me and providing me with the opportunity to carry out this research. I am especially thankful to
Gilberto Villanueva for guiding me whilst I was in Cajamarca and to Javier Coello for his
support. I am grateful to all those who welcomed and accompanied me in the various villages
and to the site visits in Cajamarca. I am most grateful for those who hosted and allowed me to
attend their meetings and functions and provided their valuable input.
I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the staff at PREDES (Centro de Estudio y Prevencin
de Desastres) who hosted me and provided assistance and advice during my entire stay in Peru.
This research was financially supported by an Engineers Without Borders UK (EWB-UK)
research bursary and later affiliated to the EWB-UK Research Programme.
I would like to thank staff at Hyder, Mott MacDonald, Grontmij, and EWB-UK for their advice,
suggestions and input. Also thanks are due to Maccaferri Ltd. (England), GVC and Oasys for
allowing me free usage of their software as part of the analysis carried out under the study.
At Cambridge University, I would like to thank my supervisor, Mr McRobie, for his support,
encouragement and guidance throughout the project.
To everyone who has supported me, in Peru and back home, and to those I met along the way
that I have not specifically mentioned, I am also very thankful.

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Table of Contents
Technical Abstract ........................................................................................................................................i
Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................................... iii
1. INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................................ 1
2. BACKGROUND ................................................................................................................................... 1
2.1 The Work of Practical Action in Cajamarca ................................................................................ 1
2.2 Objectives.......................................................................................................................................... 2
3. FIELDWORK ........................................................................................................................................ 3
3.1 Methodology ..................................................................................................................................... 3
3.2 Design Issues .................................................................................................................................... 4
4. DESIGN REVIEW AND CONSIDERATIONS ........................................................................... 5
4.1 Total Energy Demand ..................................................................................................................... 6
4.2 Hydraulic Energy Potential............................................................................................................. 7
4.3 Design of Civil Components to Meet Turbine Flow Requirements ........................................ 8
4.3.1 Intake Structure ........................................................................................................................ 8
4.3.2 Channels .................................................................................................................................... 9
4.3.3 Settling Tank ........................................................................................................................... 11
4.3.4 Pipeline..................................................................................................................................... 12
5. INTAKE STRUCTURE ..................................................................................................................... 13
5.1 Existing Intake Structure .............................................................................................................. 13
5.1.1 Advantages over Complete Reinforced Concrete ............................................................. 15
5.2 Field Observations ......................................................................................................................... 16
5.3 Analysis ............................................................................................................................................ 17
5.3.1 Existing Structures ................................................................................................................. 17
5.3.2 Efficient Design...................................................................................................................... 18
5.3.2.1 Detailed Design of Larger Scale Intake Structure .......................................................... 18
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5.3.2.2 Development of Analysis Program .................................................................................. 19
5.4 Conclusions on Intake Structure.................................................................................................. 20
6. CHANNELS ......................................................................................................................................... 22
6.1 Existing Channel Types ................................................................................................................ 22
6.1.1 Advantages over Traditional Design and Construction ................................................... 23
6.2 Field Observations ......................................................................................................................... 24
6.2.1 Problems Observed with Channels ..................................................................................... 24
6.2.2 Risks ......................................................................................................................................... 24
6.2.3 Infrastructure Vulnerability................................................................................................... 24
6. 3 Analysis........................................................................................................................................... 26
6.3.1 Larger Channels ...................................................................................................................... 26
6.3.2 Optimisation of Size .............................................................................................................. 27
6.3.3 Effect of Rapid Drawdown .................................................................................................. 28
6.4 Conclusions on Channels ............................................................................................................. 29
6.5 Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 29
7. SLOPE STABILITY............................................................................................................................ 30
7.1 Typical Geological Conditions and Problems Encountered ................................................... 31
7.2 Slope Analysis and Rapid Drawdown ......................................................................................... 33
7.3 Potential Solutions to Slope Failure Issues ................................................................................ 34
7.3.1 Reinforced Soil ....................................................................................................................... 34
7.3.2 Soil Nailing .............................................................................................................................. 35
7.3.3 Masonry walls.......................................................................................................................... 35
7.3.4 Gabion walls............................................................................................................................ 36
8. STRUCTURAL DESIGN SOLUTIONS ........................................................................................ 38
8.1 Drainage Considerations ............................................................................................................... 38
8.2 Potential Design Options. ............................................................................................................ 39

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8.2.1 In-situ and Pre-Cast Reinforced Concrete Headwall ........................................................ 39
8.2.2 Sheet Piled Headwall.............................................................................................................. 39
8.2.3 Fabric Formwork ................................................................................................................... 40
8.3 Use of Gabion Walls for an Intake Structure ............................................................................ 40
8.4 Masonry Structures ........................................................................................................................ 41
8.4.1 Mass Gravity Side Walls for Intake Structure .................................................................... 42
8.5 Re-Design of an Intake System.................................................................................................... 44
9. PRACTICAL GUIDE ......................................................................................................................... 46
10. FURTHER WORK ........................................................................................................................... 47
RISK ASSESSMENT RETROSPECTIVE ......................................................................................... 48
BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................................................................................................... 49
Books ..................................................................................................................................................... 49
Articles and Papers ............................................................................................................................... 49
Internal Reports .................................................................................................................................... 49
Standards ............................................................................................................................................... 50
Images and Websites............................................................................................................................ 50

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1. INTRODUCTION
Practical Action (known as ITDG: Soluciones Prcticas in Peru) work in some of the most
mountainous regions of Peru promoting micro-hydroelectric power schemes to provide
electricity to these remote populations. In their work Practical Action take the view that, for this
scale of work, it is not necessary to use the same techniques or standards of safety for the civil
engineering structures that are required on large hydroelectric stations. Some innovations have
been permitted to reduce costs. Practical Action would like to better develop the engineering
analysis for the solutions that they have been using so that any potential risks can be minimised.
They are evaluating the themes of safety versus investment under a theme known as, obras
civiles de bajo costo para microcentrales" (low cost civil works for micro-hydro schemes). This
research project investigates civil infrastructure in micro-hydroelectric power schemes built by
Practical Action in the region of Cajamarca.

2. BACKGROUND
The cities and villages of Peru have electricity but the communities that live in the mountains
have few facilities and limited access to services. The geography of the area provides many
challenges. These include difficulties in transportation as well as challenges in how to provide
infrastructure and supply energy in a region prone to both drought and to flooding. Whilst
rainfall in the region is favourable to a wide variety of agricultural production, the lack of access
to electricity severely restricts economic development. A source of electricity could provide
power for domestic lighting and cooking needs; for refrigeration for vaccine storage; for school
classes; and for womens groups to meet in the evening. It could be used directly for incomegenerating activities such as agricultural processes or light industry.

2.1 The Work of Practical Action in Cajamarca


Practical Action promotes small-scale hydroelectric power schemes that generate up to 500
kilowatts of power. Their 'run-of-the-river' micro-hydro systems do not require a dam or storage
facility to be constructed. Instead, water is diverted from the stream or river, channelled it in to a
valley and 'dropped' in to a turbine via a pipeline, which converts the kinetic energy of flowing
water into electricity. These schemes provide low-income communities in rural areas with an
affordable, easy to maintain and long-term solution to their energy needs. This type of
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hydroelectric power generation avoids the adverse social and environmental impacts that larger
hydroelectric schemes cause.
Large projects use a dam and reservoir to smooth out the effects of water level fluctuations
throughout the year. The major adverse impacts of hydroelectric power are social (forced
displacement of people) and environmental (destruction of natural habitats). Large dams raise
underground water levels near the reservoir, which has a significant effect on the surrounding
flora and fauna. Millions of people have also lost their land and livelihoods, and have suffered
because of downstream impacts and other indirect impacts of large dams. Large dams have been
suggested as a major factor in the rapid decline of riverine biodiversity worldwide. This is why
such larger hydroelectric schemes incorporating storage dams are not considered as a potential
solution in this project.
Practical Action require a technical analysis of specific aspects of their system for improved cost
efficiency and reliability. They are interested in the analysis, evaluation and systemisation of the
techniques and criteria that they have developed and adapted over the years.

2.2 Objectives
This research project is based on two civil components of the micro-hydro system, the intake
structure and the water channels. The objectives of this research project are:
1. To better develop the analysis of the solutions implemented, analysing the safety and
integrity of the structures and assessing current designs against technical standards.
2. To analyse the design, materials, dimensions, etc., to determine whether the design being
implemented uses the best available technology.
3. To evaluate the safety and integrity of the designs against costs based on risk & value
assessment.

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3. FIELDWORK
3.1 Methodology
Before leaving the UK to conduct the site works, a health and safety risk assessment was
conducted and an assessment on the nature of the work to be investigated were undertaken (as
outlined in a proposal document I wrote prior to travel). All of the works carried out for this
project have been conducted in Spanish and therefore I have translated all existing documents,
technical information and drawings as required. The final findings produced will be translated to
Spanish before being issued to Practical Action.
Time in Cajamarca was split between desk-based research at the Practical Action offices in Lima
and Cajamarca, and fieldwork at micro-hydroelectric system sites; working with local people and
engineers. The sites included both those under construction and those already in operation. A
summary of the sites investigated is provided in Table 1 below:
Table 1: Information on hydro-electric systems investigated in Cajamarca.

Name

Location

Power
(kW)

Families
Benefiting

District

Province

Region

Microcentrale
Yanacancha

La
Encaada

Cajamarca

Cajamarca

40

110

Microcentrale
Chontabamba

Paccha

Chota

Cajamarca

22

80

Microcentrale El
Regalado

Tumbadn

San Pablo

Cajamarca

12

40

Central Hidroelctrica
Chicce

Baos del
Inca

Cajamarca

Cajamarca

Unknown

Town of
Cajamarca

The sites were chosen in conjunction with the Practical Action engineer responsible for the
projects. Transport and safety were limiting factors in the range of projects chosen for site visits.
A sample was selected to show systems of different sizes, and to show projects ranging from
those in operation for some years to projects still in the process of being constructed. In
addition to visiting micro-hydro systems designed by Practical Action, a site visit was conducted
to look at two intake structures which had been built by the Local Government for comparison
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purposes. These provided examples of larger structures, more expensive and more sophisticated
technically than those designed by Practical Action.
The visit to Peru was followed up in the UK by working with engineering consultancies to study
water retaining structures and construction considerations in the UK.
A few issues of concern in existing systems as well as those in the process of being constructed
were observed. Some of the significant issues have been identified, investigated and suggested
solutions developed throughout this project.

3.2 Design Issues


Following the fieldwork, the general design considerations were determined. Irrespective of the
type of structure chosen for the application, calculations must demonstrate:
Overall stability The whole structure should not sink, float, overturn, slide, or impose
unacceptable loads on the ground.
Element design The reinforced concrete walls/bases should have sufficient reinforcement
and adequate thickness; timber/masonry/other materials should be of adequate strength.
Materials Considerations of whether materials are adequate and appropriate. For example,
whether the concrete strength is adequate and whether materials are appropriate for the given
environmental conditions.

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4. DESIGN REVIEW AND CONSIDERATIONS


It was decided that a complete analysis would be conducted for the civil works for a microhydroelectric scheme. This was done in order to develop a more efficient and appropriate
technology for the remote regions of Cajamarca. The civil works which are a significant and
critical component have the potential for design improvements and cost savings based on a risk
and value approach (Owen 2009). In broad terms this looks at impacts and the probability of
occurrence and assessing solutions, costs and residual risks.
Figure 1 depicts the outline of a typical micro-hydroelectric scheme constructed by Practical
Action in Cajamarca. The review would start at the intake structure where water is diverted from
its natural course and carried along channels up to the settling tank (which helps to remove
sediment that could harm the turbine). It then flows through a pipeline down the mountainside
to drive a turbine. This in turn drives a generator to produce electricity.
The purpose of this study is to have a better understanding of the current designs with a view to
achieving cost efficiency and system security. The review of the parts of the micro-hydroelectric
scheme would include the adequacy of the water conveyance system and improvements to the
system design based on geotechnical, structural and hydraulic considerations.

Figure 1: Diagram illustrating a typical micro-hydroelectric power scheme designed by


Practical Action (image courtesy of Practical Action UK).

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The components of interest are the intake structure and channels. These were investigated and
analysed for all of the sites visited in Peru. The analysis in this section of the report concentrates
on two systems designed by Practical Action: one larger scheme and one smaller, the
Chontabamba 22 kW Pelton Turbine and the Yanacancha 40 kW Pelton Turbine, respectively.
The following outlines the process of checking the suitability of the system for Chontabamba
Micro-Hydroelectric Power System. The system at Yanacancha was also analysed in a similar
way (but not included in the body of this report as the methodology is the same).

4.1 Total Energy Demand


Before a system can be designed, the estimated energy requirement must be determined. All of
the energy demands of these rural villages will not need to be satisfied simultaneously, for
example the industrial consumption for a zone of little development will have a usage of nearly
nil during the nights. Practical Action have developed calculation methods in order to make this
estimation. The procedure is outlined in a Practical Action manual for the construction of
micro-hydroelectric power schemes (Davila, C. et al. 2009).
The following excerpt (Table 2) is taken from the technical profile produced for the
Chontabamba Micro-Hydro System which is a document produced by Practical Action (ITDG
2009) to calculate the size of the turbine, and hence size of the overall system, required to serve
the Chontambamba population.
Table 2: Determining the energy requirement of Chontabamba.
TIPO DE DEMANDA
(TYPE OF DEMAND)

DOMSTICA (DOMESTIC)
ALUMBRADO PUBLICO
(PUBLIC LIGHTING)
INSTITUCIONAL
(INSTITUTIONAL)
INDUSTRIAL (INDUSTRIAL)

Demanda Diurna
(Daily Demand)
f.s.
f.u.

Demanda Nocturna
(Nightly Demand)
f.s.
f.u.

16.00 kW
1.28 kW

0.20
0.00

0.50
0.00

1.60
0.00

0.80
1.00

0.70
1.00

8.96
1.28

6.00 kW

0.70

0.70

2.94

0.40

0.50

1.20

8.00 kW

0.80

0.80

5.12
9.66

0.40

0.40

1.28
12.72

f.s = factor de simultaneidad


(simultaneity factor)
f.u = factor de uso
(usage factor)
Mxima demanda diurna actual:
9.96 kW (Maximum actual nightly demand)
Mxima demanda nocturna actual:
12.72 kW (Maximum actual daily demand)

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These figures were calculated by estimating the daily and nightly demand separately and
comparing which of the two values is the maximum energy demand. Practical Action anticipate a
10% loss in energy in the electrical transmission system, and a 40% increase in predicted usage
requirements over the 15 year design life for this particular scheme. Hence, the demand
becomes: 12.72 x 1.10 x 1.40 = 19.59 kW.

4.2 Hydraulic Energy Potential


At Chontabamba, the Ramosmayo stream passes through the right side of the town, at an
approximate distance of 200 metres and the Suro stream passes through the left side at a greater
distance. The Suro stream eventually joins the Ramosmayo stream. The streams originate in the
wilderness at altitudes between 2600 and 3200 metres.
The consistency of the flow of the streams throughout the year has been measured by Practical
Action engineers by procedure as outlined in a Practical Action manual (Davila, C. et al. 2009).
This ensures that the system is able to function throughout the year. Flow measurements made
by Practical Action indicated that the flow rate during the months of lowest flow is between 0.06
and 0.08 m3/s, with an average during the months of low flow of 0.07 m3/s.
Electrical power is generated as the water falls from the settling tank down to the turbine house
in the pipeline, converting the drop in potential energy into kinetic energy to drive the turbine.
The approximate height of elevation through which the water needs to fall was found to be 58
metres, using the inclinometer and measuring tape instrumental method; thus the electric power
to be generated is 22.33 kW as estimated using Equation 1:
= . . . .

(Equ. 1)

where = hydraulic efficiency of the turbine; = density of water (1000 kg/m3);


g = acceleration due to gravity (9.81 m/s2); Q = volume flow rate passing through the turbine
(m3/s); H = effective pressure head of water across the turbine (m).
This generated power of 22 kW is assumed to be available at all times with a flow rate of
0.07 m3/s passing through the turbine. Consequently the structures, pressure pipe and the
mechanical and electrical components would be designed to achieve this design capacity. This is
a suitable design value as it is above the power requirement of 19.59 kW with a factor of safety
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but not too far above so as to require enlarged structural, mechanical and electrical components,
which would incur unnecessary additional costs. With the conditions of flow rate and elevations
defined, the components of the micro-hydro system would have to be designed with
characteristics of acceptable efficiency to achieve the required power of 22 kW. In this example,
the components would be designed such that the minimum water flow rate is 0.07 m3/s.

4.3 Design of Civil Components to Meet Turbine Flow Requirements


4.3.1 Intake Structure
The inlet structure should be located in the appropriate location of Ramosmayo River (just after
the Suro River merges with it to access maximum available flow), and should consist of raising
the necessary barrier height to permit the bypass of the design flow towards the transmission
channel to the settling tank by constructing a barrier perpendicular to the direction of flow.
Flow diverted into the channel would be controlled by a hand-wheel operated weir or sluice gate
to regulate the required flow of water. The specified sluice gate size of 0.50m x 0.40m was
determined to be appropriate.
As part of this initial investigation the discharge over rectangular, trapezoidal and V-notch weirs
were undertaken. Figure 2 below summarises these shapes used for which I calculated flow rate,
Q, based on the value of water depth, h (as marked on Figure 2). Flow rates were estimated using
data for the Practical Action systems.
The size and dimensions of this intake structure are dependent on the width of the river bed and
the slope conditions either side of the intake structure. These specific issues are investigated in
greater depth in Section 5.3 of the report.

Figure 2: Weir Shapes

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4.3.2 Channels
The dimensions and hydraulic characteristics of the channels need to be such that the channels
are able to conduct a specified minimum flow. This flow requirement at Chontabamba has been
calculated as 0.70 m3/s. The calculation of the net elevation head is also required. This is the
vertical distance between the discharge level at the settling tank and the micro-hydroelectric
station at which point the diverted flow is returned to the stream/river.
The normal water level in the channel (the water level at some distance downstream of the intake
structure) will depend on the flow and the properties of the channel. The key properties of the
channel will include slope, roughness coefficient and the geometric properties. The design of the
intake structure will maintain a reservoir for continuous feed to the micro-hydroelectric power
station via the channels.
The water in the channel is being carried along the side of the mountain slopes, though flows at
a gentler slope from the intake to reach the settling tank before it flows downhill to drive the
turbine and rejoin the main flow. Power is derived from the kinetic energy as it flows downhill.

Figure 3: Open channel parameters as specified on a trapezoidal channel.

The Mannings equation for uniform flow in an open channel (Chow 1959) is written as:
5

3 .

= 1

. 3

(Equ. 2)

where Q = design discharge of the channel (m3/s); A = cross sectional area of flow (m2); S0=bed
slope of the channel; n = roughness coefficient of the channel section; P = wetted perimeter
(m); = energy correction factor.
Mannings Equation (Equation 2) is used to calculate the normal depth of flow in the inlet
channel (where the water depth does not change in the direction of the flow) which would
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facilitate the determination of the sluice/weir gate level required at the intake structure and hence
the overflow into the channel to the settling tank.
In view of the channel bed material (sandy soil) any critical areas are required to be lined with
concrete (or other impermeable material). This is to prevent loss of water by infiltration and to
avoid the channel being undermined due to water washing away the sand. In some critical zones
PVC pipe of 300 mm diameter would be utilised.
Though there are regions of rectangular shaped channels and below ground pipelines, the
majority of channel sections installed are trapezium in shape, lined or unlined earth channels.
The parameters for rectangular, triangular and trapezoidal open channels (as defined in Figure 3
for a trapezoidal channel) were substituted into Mannings equation, re-written in terms of flow,
and the heights versus the flow rate plotted to gain an appreciation of the open channel
behaviour and the suitability of existing designs.
Figure 4: Graph to plot how the discharge rate is affected by water level depth in a
trapezoidal channel.

Flow Rate, Q (m3/s)

60.000
50.000
40.000
30.000
20.000
10.000
0.000
0.00

0.50

1.00

1.50

2.00

Water Depth, h (m)

This is calculated based on Mannings equation. For this particular example, the channels were modelled to be concrete lined
(n=0.015), with a channel depth of 2.5 m and side slopes of 1 in 1. The slope of the channel was modelled with the average
slope value at Chontabamba of 6 in 1000.
Calculated and plotted by author.

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4.3.3 Settling Tank
Typical settlings tanks in these schemes (example pictured in Figure 5) are of concrete
construction that would receive the water flow at the required rate and allow any sediment to
settle at the bottom in order to avoid any damage to the mechanical equipment in the turbine
house. The discharge pipe is set a level higher than the base slope to allow the sediment to be
retained. Routine maintenance would be required to clean the settling tanks.

The inlet and

outlet would be designed to minimise turbulence and to avoid any air entrainment and sediment
into the pipeline.

Figures 5 and 6: System at Chontabamba

Figure 5: Settling Tank

Figure 6: Pipeline leading from settling tank into


turbine house, held in place by thrust block.

Further to consultation with Practical Action staff, it was decided that this structure would not
be examined in detail during this research project. Engineering design guidance has already been
produced on this structure by Practical Action. This allows for a focus in greater detail within
this project on the two elements of greatest interest to Practical Action, the intake structures and
the water channels.

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4.3.4 Pipeline
This pipe carries the water from the settling tank down to the turbine. The pipeline and the
thrust block (used to prevent the movement of the pipe) can be seen adjacent to the building
that houses the mechanical and electrical equipment in Figure 6.
The following profile was developed from information collected for this project with the
assistance of other Practical Action engineers. It models the slope from the settling tank to the
turbine house and shows the pipeline along the longitudinal section.

Figure 7: Slope and pipeline between settling tank and turbine house at Chontabamba.

Profile drawn by author.

Pipe calculations were also undertaken based on the existing tube profile to see that the flow at
the bottom end of the pipe would be sufficient to drive the turbine. This included estimating
friction losses and using hydraulic design charts. It was found that the pipeline currently in place
at Chontabamba was fit for purpose.
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5. INTAKE STRUCTURE
5.1 Existing Intake Structure
The intake structure is used to divert water from the main river flow into channels that carry
water along a different path to that of the natural flow. As the natural river course flows
downhill, this diverted water can be maintained at a higher level, creating a height potential.
The region experiences periods of both drought and heavy rain. In the case of drought, the
construction of a barrier of appropriate height is necessary to secure the supply of water for
power generation. However, a barrier that provides this requirement but can also support the
passage of water in the river during rainy periods would result in a large infrastructure. This was
confirmed by my calculations.
Practical Action make use of an intake structure of concrete and wood mixed type barrier. This
can be implemented at a low cost. The intake structure consists of two side walls either side of
the stream. The required quantity of the water is diverted into a channel by means of a manually
operated sluice/weir gate on one of these side walls and by a series of wooden stoplogs that can
be placed perpendicular to the flow of the river to hold water back.
The removable stoplogs are used to maintain water level upstream of the barrier in rivers with
moderate slopes between 1 and 2%. For small streams, the stoplogs are slotted in rebates
perpendicular to stream in concrete walls either side of the stream and base, forming the opening
(see Figure 8 below). In large streams and rivers, structures are much wider with the opening
formed by concrete columns and base.
In the dry season, it functions with the interlocking stoplogs in place up to a height to allow
sufficient build up of water level for draw-off, and during the rainy season the wooden stoplogs
can be removed as necessary so that the flow can be regulated. This system also facilitates the
removal of material accumulated at the barrier as the stop logs can be removed, and material
transported down the river without the need to dredge upstream.
This technology consists of designing channelling walls and base made of concrete of 140 to 175
kg/cm2 (approximately 14 17.5 MPa) strength, which is made up of cement, sand and gravel,
mixed with 25 - 30% large stone by volume.
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Figures 8, 9 and 10: Intake Structures

Figure 9: Photograph of Chontabamba


intake structure (one of the smaller
intake structures).

Figure 8: Overhead schematic drawing by ITDG of Chontabamba


intake structure with translations annotated.

No stoplogs are in place in these intake structures.

Figure 10: Photograph of Yanacancha


intake structure. Height of side walls
either side of intake is about 2m above
ground.

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5.1.1 Advantages over Complete Reinforced Concrete

Reduces the cost by well over 35%, both in terms of materials and workmanship with
reduced concrete, formwork and reinforcement.

Facilitates cleaning of the accumulated sediments. The wooden stoplogs that make up
the barrier are simply removed and the river flow is used to remove the sediments.

It is a simple technology, easy to maintain and can be operated by the rural population.

Reduces transport requirements, due to reduced use of cement and aggregates.

In case of flooding, the wooden stoplogs serve as a fuse. When a flood occurs, it is possible that
this action will break the wooden boards of the barrier allowing the river to move freely,
preventing flooding or damage to the intake and other components of the micro-hydro system.
Alternatively, the stoplogs can be removed as required during rainy season.

Figure 11: Intake structure at Chontabamba

Despite being only a couple of years old, there is quite significant concrete damage. The effects of scour are already visible at
the bottom edges of the structure.

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5.2 Field Observations


A large number of cracks were observed in the intake concrete structures (as well as other
structures and components such as channels, settling tanks, etc.). A number of factors could be
contributing to this problem, including differential settlement, ground movements, thermal
cracking due to inadequate reinforcement and the use of low strength concrete (14-17.5 MPa)
for structures.
Some of the issues with the current design

Figure 12: Severe cracking in structures in

have been identified from the site visits,

Chontabamba.

and several others are evident from the


detailed review of the design drawings.
One noticeable feature is the distinct lack
of

reinforcement.

There

is

more

reinforcement present in the larger intake


structures; however this is still insufficient
by British Standards.

Furthermore, the

reinforcement used is not placed in the


appropriate

locations

reinforcement

to

be

for
effective.

the
For

example, by placing it at the bottom of the


structure with little or no cover means that
the reinforcement will be subjected to the
effects of the environment and are likely to
corrode. If this occurs, it will not serve
any useful function as part of the structural

British Standard BS8007 states that water retaining structures

member in providing adequate strength or

should have a maximum crack width of 0.2mm. Cracks seen

preventing any thermal cracks.

here were measured at around 1mm.

Based on the initial review, it was determined that the design of the intakes structure and
channels would be carried out in accordance with the British Standards (primarily BS8110 for
concrete, and BS8007 for water retaining structures and earth pressures acting on below ground
structures in accordance with BS8002) to have an understanding of what considerations are vital
in carrying out the design of such structures. Furthermore the regulations and standards of
safety practised in the UK would be considered together with any specific requirements that
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apply in Peru. There is no guidance available at present to aid in the design of such intermediate
technology of small scale with alternative design and construction methods. The challenges and
concerns present in designing larger scale structures are greater, making the design of intake
structures and channels for larger scale hydroelectric power schemes worth examining closer in
order to avoid any potential for catastrophic failures.

5.3 Analysis
5.3.1 Existing Structures
Analysis of the structures in use in Peru has been undertaken based on guidance provided by
British Standards, technical notes and design manuals currently used by practising engineers.
The designs currently used by Practical Action have tried to use more innovative designs and
construction methods and low cost technology. They had not, prior to this investigation, been
designed or checked to ensure their safety and security. Having analysed the structures it can be
seen that they have not been adequately designed to cope against certain failure mechanisms, for
example, overturning, flotation and sliding.
Hand calculations determined that the overturning stability was satisfactory and the risk of
failure by sliding was very low in all cases. There were, however, several other concerns to
address (as outlined in Section 5.2).
Limitation of thermal and shrinkage crack widths (typically to 0.2mm as stated in BS8007) would
need to be undertaken. This could be done by providing small bar reinforcement at small
regular centres. In this country, meshes are considered good for this type of use (e.g. A252 or
A393 meshes) though the availability and costs are likely to mean that this is not a suitable
option

for

the

micro-hydroelectric

schemes

built

by

Practical

Action

in

Cajamarca. Reinforcement is generally needed in both faces for sections greater than 250mm
thick. Minimum cover to reinforcement should typically be 40mm, subject to the environmental
conditions.
In the UK, virtually every reinforced concrete structure designed uses a cement mix of 50% each
of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) and Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBFS). This
is cheaper that 100% OPC, has better sulphate resisting properties and means that less
reinforcement is needed to prevent thermal cracking, the only downside being that the concrete
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has to be cured for longer while it gains strength. This would be recommended if GGBFS is
available at an economical cost in Peru.
There should be a limit on water/cement (w/c) ratio of 0.55. A lower water-cement ratio leads
to higher strength and durability but may make the mix more difficult to work with. Too much
water will result in settling and segregation of the water, cement, sand and aggregate
components. Also, mix with too much water will experience more shrinkage as the excess water
leaves, resulting in internal cracks and visible fractures which will reduce the final strength.
Problems are commonly caused by site workers ignoring this limit and putting more water in the
mix to make the handling easier. Concrete should be mixed and cast on a low permeability
surface, otherwise some water will leach out. In this case, more water will need be added to make
the mix workable and control over the w/c ratio would be lost. This is another possible cause
for the cracks mentioned in Section 5.2.
5.3.2 Efficient Design
The existing structural designs of concrete intake structures appear to be practical, although they
could certainly be improved in order to achieve an acceptable standard based on a risk and value
approach. This improvement is likely to increase the cost of the project by increasing the amount
of reinforcement and increasing concrete quality. However this could potentially be offset by a
more efficient design to reduce material costs and lessen maintenance requirements (lower life
cycle costs). This includes, for example, making thinner walls so that a smaller volume of
concrete is required. This would allow the costs saved to be used for other items such as more
reinforcing steel.
5.3.2.1 Detailed Design of Larger Scale Intake Structure
The full detailed design was carried out for a potential intake structure. This design was in
accordance with the British Standard design and resulted in a much greater amount of
reinforcing steel than those used in the schemes designed by Practical Action in Peru. The
structure was designed to be about 1.5m above the river bed and extending into the slope and
below river bed level. This will then be the same scale as the Practical Action designed intake
structures.

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Figure 13: Drawings produced for the detailled design of a reinforced concrete intake
structure.

These drawings are some examples and include the corner reinforcement detail, a plan view and a schematic explaining some
of the reinforcement.
Drawings by author.

5.3.2.2 Development of Analysis Program


Using the considerations highlighted in the detailed design, it was decided to develop a program
that could very quickly design parts of the intake structure and check their suitability in terms of
stability, sliding and other design considerations. Though there are software packages readily
available on the market to design such features, the program that I developed has the Practical
Action micro-hydro schemes in mind and focuses on creating side walls of the intake structure
that also act as retaining walls to stabilise the slopes (parts of which can be seen in Figure 14
below).
The main advantage is that this program allows the user to input and vary the dimensions, and
rather than simply presenting an output as to whether or not the input meets various structural
safety criteria, it has the equations and calculations used to provide this output quite clearly
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displayed. Thereby the user is able to follow these calculations through and develop an
understanding of how the design process works.
The program then displays the rough estimated cost of components of the system. A key part of
the focus of this program is to develop structures of low cost, and I created a section of the
program to be used to see whether a structurally stable yet economic solution can be achieved
when using reinforced concrete compared to the current designs.
The initial idea was to use a general quantity surveyors guide to provide a cost estimate; however
the costs of materials in the local area of the Province of Cajamarca will of course vary from the
pricing and materials used here in the UK. Instead it was thought to be appropriate to pro rata
the data for the Practical Action structures that have been reviewed. This feature has been
included in the program, but will need to be reviewed by Practical Action Engineers in
Cajamarca to provide more accurate cost values based on what is available in the local region.

5.4

Conclusions on Intake Structure

Many of the problems identified in these structures were as a result of insufficient amount and
poor usage of reinforcing steel combined with low strength concrete. The costs of the structure
could be reduced by designing the structures to require less concrete.
It was found that, in most cases, the resulting costs still ended up being higher than those of the
intake structures actually constructed. It should be kept in mind that the cost values calculated
are not confirmed. Despite the decrease in concrete required by a more efficient design, the
increase in cost tends to come from the increase in reinforcement steel that these structures
should have.

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Figure 14: Example sections of intake design program developed by author.

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6. CHANNELS
6.1 Existing Channel Types
The method of the trusses described below for the lining the channels with concrete permits an
important reduction of costs. This is due to the decrease of the thickness of the lining down to
between 5cm and 7.5cm, depending on the cross section of the channel. This permits an
important saving in materials in that there is less concrete and no formwork. The method
consists of placing trusses at required intervals, with straight runs at long intervals and curved
zones at short intervals. The channels are then lined with concrete.
These trusses are then removed and the gaps are filled with materials suitable to serve as
expansion joints, thereby avoiding formation of cracks in the channels. Currently, many
governmental and private organizations are using these lined channels for other uses, mainly in
small and medium irrigation works.
This technique used to construct channels is simple and permits the employment of unskilled
labour as compared to the more skilled labour required for using formwork.

Figures 15 and 16: Channels

Figure 15: Trusses being placed before Figure 16: Complete concrete lined channels.
concrete is applied to earth channels. (Photograph courtesy of Practical Action).
(Photograph courtesy of Practical Action).

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6.1.1 Advantages over Traditional Design and Construction
The advantages of the trusses over formwork (shuttering) for this scale of channel is summarised
below:

Allows more flexibility and facilitates the work in curved and straight sections with ease.

Allows concrete thickness down to 50mm, thereby reducing the amount of concrete
required. With the formwork method, a minimum thickness of 150mm is required to
vibrate the concrete for adequate compaction. As there is no electricity available in these
remote regions, a portable generator would be required which would incur further
expenses, and so a process that does not involve electrical processes is ideal.

Reduces the quantity of wood by approximately 80% as the need for formwork is
eliminated.

Reduces the use for materials for the placement of expansion joints (asphalt, sand) by
50%.

Eliminates the labour requirement for fixing and removal of formwork.

Allows the finishing of the slopes and the floor (fair, rough or rip-rap finish) on the same
day or almost immediately without having to remove the formwork.

Good workmanship can be achieved with the local labour available with better efficiency.

Allows reduction of raw materials (concrete, stone, sand, timber and other), resulting in
lower cost of transportation of materials and reduces efforts for its attainment, especially
in remote areas with difficult access.

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6.2 Field Observations


6.2.1 Problems Observed with Channels
Based on observation, only the critical sections are lined with concrete due to a lack of available
funding. Therefore, there is a potential for loss of water by infiltration into the ground due to
channel cracking and channel erosion. The existing concrete channel sections have no provision
for pressure relief to avoid issues with for flotation.
Several large cracks were noticed in existing channels. Though this poses no risks to structures
of such small size in terms of safety and structural integrity, these cracks lead to significant losses
in water being transported towards the turbine.
6.2.2 Risks
It has been established that the structural integrity of the channels themselves is not a key
concern for small works; however they are subjected to other risks.
Landslides, soil creep and to a lesser extent the falling blocks of earth are the main risk factors
that threaten the channel. These phenomena occur more frequently during the rainy season. It is
also the case that the local population, intent on improving their pastures, have a tendency to
over-irrigate the land. This exacerbates these risk factors as they further saturate the soil during
the rainy season.
6.2.3 Infrastructure Vulnerability
The channel is the structural the most vulnerable structural component as channels often run up
to a few kilometres through fields of various unstable conditions, susceptible to phenomena of
instability such as landslides and soil creep, as well as erosion of slopes by river scour.
The Yanacancha Micro-Hydro system can be used to highlight typical problems encountered
with channels. In the first 50 metres from the intake, the channel does not present any major
problems. Then, as it crosses a stream with a culvert the channel has accumulated sediment and,
in combination with the falling earth from adjacent slopes, has a reduced channel capacity. In
this same section the ground appears to be saturated with water, resulting in an increased lateral
pressure of soils on the channel side. This causes sliding as well as a moment which may exceed
the available moment resistance capacity, resulting in channel collapse. This prospect is even
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more likely to occur when these channels are not reinforced concrete, which would have a
greater moment resistance capacity. The steel bars in the reinforced concrete would be able to
carry some of the tensile forces which mass concrete is unable to carry, as well as some of the
compressive and bending forces.

Figures 17 and 18: Slope Movement

Figure 17: Indication of movement of slope Figure 18: The movement of sections of the
into channel path A cover over the open slope material towards channel is visible here,
channel has been added to prevent the flow in as marked by the dotted lines.
the channel from being cut off.

In the next 150m of the channel, it is affected by landslides and soil creep. These phenomena
generate a lateral thrust on the channel, the effect of which can be seen by the breaking and
settling of the channel in several sections. Some of these breaks have been repaired very simply
with a patch, however this is not a long-term solution as the soil sliding process continues and is
likely to become acute in the following rainy season (Figure 17). Where then channel has
developed cracks, a significant quantity of water is lost by seepage into the ground. These
conditions are aggravated by an accelerated ground settlement process.
The figures above illustrate some of these failure examples and critical conditions. For example,
the yellow dotted lines in Figure 18 show the presence of faults in the slope due soil creep. This
results in blockage and in some cases destruction of the channel.

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Figures 19 and 20: Channels

Figure 19: Slope collapse at Yanacancha. This Figure 20: Slope collapse at Yanacancha. New
channels were dug into the earth and covered
lead to the destruction of channels.
pipe put into place at critical sections. Pipe
could not be installed along the entire length of
channel due to lack of funding.

6. 3 Analysis
6.3.1 Larger Channels
The full detailed design was carried out for a large channel section to have a good understanding
of the design concept prior to looking at the relatively small channels that are part of the
Practical Action micro-hydroelectric power schemes. The channel was designed to be five to ten
times larger than those used in these micro-hydro schemes (about 3m in depth) with reinforced
concrete and without any drainage features. It was noted that a large amount of concrete would
be required to negate the flotation effects caused by ground water pressure. To overcome the
flotation, a means to relieve these pressures must be considered in the channel design. However,
the flotation was found not to be an issue with such small channels as those used in these microhydro schemes.

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6.3.2 Optimisation of Size
The size channels without any reinforcement or other structural considerations will be limited.
For example, a large trapezoidal unreinforced channel with unstable side slopes can collapse,
thereby resulting in the channel being destroyed and the system security will not be guaranteed.
The graph below (Figure 21) shows the results of the examination of a general unreinforced
concrete trapezoidal channel. It shows how large a concrete channel can be at given channel
depths, varying the angle of the trapezoids side slopes and the thickness of channel wall. This is
calculated irrespective of pressure relief, drainage, or other devices.
It was assumed that the channel is built on top of a porous material (e.g. sand backfill) and that
that the trapezium is hinged at the base corners. An analysis has been carried out to determine
the maximum height that an empty channel can have such that the channel does not float away
or have the sides collapse.
Each line on the graph depicts a different depth, d, and the thickness of the channel is plotted
against the angle, , of the side slopes to the horizontal.

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Figure 21: The relationship of varying channel depth, side wall angle and thickness for an
unreinforced concrete trapezoidal channel for different channel depths.

Channel depth
increasing from 0.5m
to 10m

Graphs produced by author using Matlab software


.

6.3.3 Effect of Rapid Drawdown


A key concern with water-carrying structures is the build up of excess pore water pressure. This
can cause an uplift pressure in channels resulting in failure during rapid drawdown of the
channel water level.
Embankments may become saturated by seepage during prolonged high water levels. If
subsequently the reservoir pool is drawn down faster than the pore water can escape, excess pore
water pressures and reduced stability will result. For the purposes of this analysis it is assumed
that drawdown is very fast, and no drainage occurs in materials with low permeability.
Calculations were also undertaken to model the limits of a general trapezium channel with
varying channel depth as affected by rapid drawdown.

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6.4 Conclusions on Channels


In small works, as is the case of the micro-hydroelectric systems and especially in those where
the flow rates will be relatively small, the channels do not bear significant ground forces or the
forces imposed are negligible for the calculation of resistance. For these types of systems, the
primary purpose of the channel lining is to avoid losses of water by infiltration and to protect the
base and the slopes of the channel against erosion caused by the flow velocity. In terms of the
structural integrity, the thickness of the wall can be reduced to the minimum within the practical
functionality and without running significant risks.
The channel is one of the most vulnerable parts of the system as it is at high risk of collapsing
due to the effects of landslides, soil creep and lateral displacement by saturated and waterlogged
terrain sliding downhill.

6.5 Recommendations
Based on the evaluation of the channels, my recommendations can be summarised as follows:
1. Implement land drainage to reduce the build up of groundwater that appears to make the
ground unstable. This is generally achieved by excavating selected regions of ground and
filling it with drainage material such as gravel such that it leads to a pipe to carry the
water away. As this may involve constructing drainage trenches and ditches on land
owned by the local population, any implementation would require discussion with them
and could only take place with their consent and understanding of the benefits.
2. Adjust the irrigation system in pasture lands with appropriate technology such as drip
irrigation or spraying, so that the moisture content of soils can be controlled.
3. Evaluate the options for changing the channel liner or designing an alternative water
conveyance system for the critical sections such as a flexible structures/ pipes that adapt
to deformations of the soil. Use of PVC pipe for conveyance of water is an option. This
is currently implemented in sections where slope failure has occurred, but the use of
open section channels with design modifications could also be considered.
4. Design the works to implement security and protection for the channel at critical
locations. In order to prevent collapse, the slopes affected by erosion of the river could
be stabilized. For lands affected by landslides, land drainage can be implemented.

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7. SLOPE STABILITY
The brief from Practical Action was to
investigate the structural considerations of

Figure 22: Chontambamba intake

the intake structure and channels; however,


from the work carried out it can be
concluded that these factors could not be
isolated form the effect of slope behaviour
(examples of which can be seen in Figures 23
and 24 below). It was therefore decided to
investigate the behaviour of the surrounding
slopes and their effect on the infrastructure
of concern.
Notice adjacent slope erosion.

Slope failure has the potential to destroy


parts of the channel system following a
period of heavy rainfall. There is evidence of slopes failure and the concrete lined channels
being destroyed. Threats to existing structures exist in many regions due to the susceptibility of
the landscape to erosion and landslide. For example, in Figure 22 of the intake structure, slope
erosion and past slope failure can be seen. Similar slope failure in the future could potentially
lead to damage to the intake structures.
The channel and intake structures are some of the most vulnerable components of the microhydro system, due to exposure to various hazards that occur in this region such as landslides, soil
creep, scour due to the river and erosion of slopes that support the channel and falling rocks.
The risk of failure of the micro-hydroelectric system is high due to likely break-up, settlement
and collapse of the channels and intake in such sections.
These factors could result in collapse and total disruption of hydroelectric power for all users. In
some cases it also affects farmlands that depend on these transmission channels to provide water
for agricultural activities.

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Figures 23 and 24: Slope Failure

Figure 23: Slope failure that affects the base of Figure 24: Channel path affected by slope
the channel. Earth is fractured in blocks.

failure.

7.1 Typical Geological Conditions and Problems Encountered


Similar issues with regards to slope stability are encountered throughout the Cajamarca region.
Though the specific geological conditions are subject to some variation, they are quite similar in
most cases and the study on Yanacancha Micro-Hydro system is provided here to illustrate a
typical scenario where problems occur. This information was collected in the field, from
speaking with local people and Practical Action engineers and from looking at previous studies
(Rengifo, J. M. 2008).
In terms of morphology, the area is located in the middle-lower part of the river basin which
drains the Llaucano River. The valley presents mountainsides of moderate slope that are more
rugged towards the lower regions and provided with good vegetation cover consisting primarily
of grasses and some pine, eucalyptus and queuales.
The area where the micro-hydro structures are located is predominantly land dedicated to
livestock grazing and related agricultural production. Towards the downstream end of the system
where the settling tank and the turbine house is located, the terrain becomes more rugged with
steep slopes. There are no signs of increasing instability, except in the first few hundred metres
of channel leading from the intake structure. This section of channel passes through pasture
land that is oversaturated with water due to lack of proper drainage. This leads to the ground
becoming unstable.

Settling tank, turbine house,

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Figure 25: Aerial view of part of the Yanacancha River Basin.

Photograph courtesy of Google Maps. Annotations by author.

The geological characteristics of the land are varied; the zone around the intake structure is
composed primarily of sedimentary rock formation composed of limestone, marl and fine clays.
The composition leads to fairly unstable soils that slide easily under the influence of excessive
moisture from infiltration and uncontrolled flood irrigation applied to the grasslands.
On the other hand, the predominant climate conditions in the area are divided into two marked
stages. Between the months of November to April there is high humidity and intense rain, the
rivers reach substantial levels and lands are prone to sliding. Between the months of May to
October there are periods of drought, during which there is a reduction in the water supply
available to drive the turbine to produce electricity.
The geotechnical instability is associated with changing environmental conditions, above all the
saturated ground conditions during the rainy season. Currently there is very little being
implemented in order to address this issue of slope stability, apart from a few minor rock walls
put in place after problems have arisen. This highlighted the need for further investigations of
slope behaviour and design work to suggest alternative methods, in order to prevent such failure.

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7.2 Slope Analysis and Rapid Drawdown


While the development of deep-seated failure surfaces is possible, the more common sight
viewed in site survey was in the form of relatively shallow slope failures. If left unattended these
lead to the gradual deterioration of the slopes either side of the river channel, and eventually the
collapse of the channel.
The rapid drawdown scenario is one of the most severe loading conditions that earth slopes can
experience. Flood events can leave water levels high in rivers and drainage channels for
significant periods of time and then drop relatively rapidly once the floodwaters recede. The
effect of this inundation on the soil in the slope, both prior to and subsequent to drawdown, is
the idea of the rapid drawdown loading condition. To model this loading condition, the soil
strength and pore pressure development in the slope must be considered.
It was determined that the slopes for the systems being investigated would be analysed using the
Simplified Bishop Method. Oasys Slope (produced by the software house of Arup) was used to
analyse and understand some of the slope behaviour in the Cajamarca region (an example of
such analysis using Oasys Slope can be seen in Figure 26).

Oasys Slope performs two-

dimensional slope stability analysis to study circular or non-circular slip surfaces. The program
uses the method of slices and offers a variety of established methods for calculating interslice
forces.
The calculations used in this programme were backed up by carrying out a hand calculation of
the Bishop Circle Method for failure, method of which is outlined in the U.S Army Corps of
Engineers Engineering and Design Manual for the Structural Design of Concrete Lined Flood
Control Channels (EM 1110-2-2007).
The slopes input used in the example were generalised versions of the slopes that exist adjacent
to intake structures in Cajamarca, and a geotechnical survey of much greater depth would need
to be undertaken before a more accurate model could be produced. It was found that there were
some variations between the hand calculations and the computer generated model. This was to
be expected as the computer generated model goes through calculations with a greater degree of
accuracy, though the outputs were within reasonable margins (19.7% difference between the
factor of safety value generated) considering the factor of safety values are within 1.00 and 4.00.

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Figure 26: Example of Oasys Slope analysis of slope failure using the Bishop Circle Method
for failure.

7.3 Potential Solutions to Slope Failure Issues


Where the soil or ground is not inherently stable it will be prone to failure and so the
performance of the existing soils needs to be improved. There are many ways to achieve
reinforcement of the soils within embankments or slopes. Some of these potential methods are
outlined in this section.
7.3.1 Reinforced Soil
Reinforced soil is the technique whereby fill material (frictional or cohesive) is compacted in
successive layers onto horizontally placed sheets or strips of geosynthetic or metallic
reinforcement.

The considerations involved in designing this type of slope reinforcement have

been developed into a programme called GCV Reactive.


Some examples of soil reinforcement schemes for the sites investigated were produced. To verify
the suitability of the output of the programme hand calculations were used, following those
contained in HA 68/94: Design Methods for the Reinforcement of Highway Slopes by
Reinforced Soil and Soil Nailing Techniques guide produced by the Highways Agency.
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This method cannot be considered for protecting soil slopes and repairing soil slope failure
throughout the entire system but the option may be considered in critical zones, such as those
slopes which are adjacent to key pieces of infrastructure which are difficult or costly to replace.
7.3.2 Soil Nailing
HA 68/94 defines soil nailing as the technique whereby in situ ground (virgin soil or existing fill
material) is reinforced by the insertion of tension-carrying soil nails. Soil nails may be of either
metallic or polymeric material and either grouted into a predrilled hole or inserted using a
displacement technique. They will normally be installed at a slight downward inclination to the
horizontal.
Soil nailing has the advantage over the reinforced soil method in that that slope would not have
to be rebuilt and compacted; however the this technique requires specialised equipment and the
costs incurred would be prohibitive. With such limited and difficult transport routes, it would be
far too difficult to access the site with the required heavy machinery.
7.3.3 Masonry walls
Masonry walls have been used on a small scale to repair damaged zones that provide further
threat to the infrastructure. This idea is developed in further detail in Section 8.4, which
provides potential solutions to the issue of infrastructure vulnerability due to slope failure.

Figure 27: Section of channel which has been broken, rebuilt and protected by a masonry
wall.

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7.3.4 Gabion walls
Gabions are wire mesh baskets that are filled on site with stone or rock to form larger building
modules. Usually, gabion baskets of different sizes are stacked in a stepped formation, with
larger units at the base, to provide stability. Gabions have some advantages over loose stone
material because of their modularity and ability to be stacked in various shapes; they are also
resistant to being washed away by moving water. Gabions have advantages over more rigid
structures because they can conform to ground movement, dissipate energy from flowing water,
and drain freely.
Maccaferri LTD. (England) granted a license to the gabion design programme GawacWin 2003.
This enabled the possibility of investigating many different designs and design parameters in
order to discover what characteristics would yield the optimum structure.
Although flush faced walls can be used where space is limited, it is not recommended to
construct vertical faced walls as gabions are a flexible structure and movement can occur during
backfilling. This may cause instability and give the appearance of the wall leaning forward. To
overcome this effect, and to improve stability, gabions are often designed at a slight inclination
from the vertical.
In determining the stepping arrangement it is not advisable to have a unit which overhangs the
unit below at the rear of the wall. This is because the poor backfilling behind the wall will result
in further soil movement later.
Figure 28: Example of a gabion design input into GawacWin.

This particular structure was used in the investigation to see the effect of flush-faced front walls. (Design 2 in Table 3).

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The validity of the results generated from running this software was checked by carrying out a
hand calculation, which provided a result within reasonable agreement of the computer
simulated run.
There were a few conclusions reached as a result of the investigations carried out using this
software package. An excerpt from one of these investigations can be seen in Table 3 below and
the full set of results was used to conclude that flushed faced walls facing the river generally give
higher toe bearing pressures. In Table 3 below, the same size gabion baskets are used in each
level, but with their position relative to one another altered. Another conclusion was that it may
be possible to reduce the bearing by spreading the load over a greater area using a gabion as a
founding course.
Table 3: Analysing the effect of flush-faced walls.
Stability Checks

Sliding Safety Coefficient

1
(Flush Front
Wall)
2.72

2
(Symmetric
Figure 28)
3.22

3
(Stepped
Front Wall)
2.86

4
(Stepped
Front Wall)
2.47

Overturning Safety Coefficient

3.78

4.96

4.35

3.62

Overall Stability Safety Coefficient

1.57

1.60

1.58

1.53

Base Normal Stress (left) kN/m2

84.66

48.66

67.25

67.65

Base Normal Stress (right) kN/m2

29.90

49.34

40.11

34.27

183.69

187.85

184.72

179.14

Max Allowable Stress kN/m

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8. STRUCTURAL DESIGN SOLUTIONS


This report thus far has identified the problems that occur with some of the structures in the
micro-hydroelectric power systems constructed by Practical Action, and investigated some of the
causes of these problems. This section of the report aims to address some of these problems
with potential solutions.

8.1 Drainage Considerations


The back faces of the retaining walls that form either side of the intake structure are likely to be
subjected to hydrostatic forces from groundwater. A means of providing a more structurally
stable system, whilst only slightly modifying the existing design, would be to consider the
provision of drainage features.
These hydrostatic forces could be reduced by the provision of a drainage path at the face of the
wall. Such a drain could be provided by a layer of gravel, rubble or porous blocks with pipes to
collect and remove the accumulated groundwater. This type of system is illustrated in Figure 29
below which is based on a typical design currently in use but modified to make use of such
features.

Figure 29: Proposal to modify existing intake structures to include drainage features.

Technical drawing produced by author. Drawing based on an original structure design by Practical Action. The
proposed modification is circled.

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In addition to reducing the hydrostatic pressure on the wall, the likelihood of leakage through
the wall is reduced. This is critical if steel reinforcement is present as it would undergo corrosion,
thereby compromising the structural integrity.

The water is also less likely to reach and

undermine the soil beneath the foundations of the wall.

8.2 Potential Design Options.


A number of design options for the intake structure have been assessed, including alternatives
such as pre-cast concrete, sheet piled headwalls, fabric formwork, filling fabric forms with fine
aggregate concrete (structural grout) and use of gabion or masonry walls. This section briefly
outlines the potential design options reviewed. Some of these design options proved to be
inappropriate to develop as potential options. Based on the initial analysis, the alternatives of
pre-cast concrete and sheet piles were rejected due to cost considerations and the impracticality
of their use given the site conditions, lacking power and transport infrastructure.
8.2.1 In-situ and Pre-Cast Reinforced Concrete Headwall
Reinforced concrete has the benefit of being relatively low cost and high durability, with very
low maintenance requirements.

Due to the remote nature of locations and severe flood

conditions, a low-maintenance structure has convenience and safety benefits. Casting the wall
in-situ allows exact dimensions to be determined on-site to suit the existing ground and to
facilitate tying the new intake structure into any stabilisation works (such as gabion walls). Precast would be of benefit in reducing the construction time on site on the bed of the river.
However, a pre-cast head wall would be too heavy to cast in one piece and lift into position.
Therefore it will have to be cast in several sections and assembled on site. Due to these works
being located in regions with such difficult access, as well as difficulties connecting various
sections together, pre-cast options will not be considered any further.
8.2.2 Sheet Piled Headwall
Sheet piled walls are frequently used on sites such as riverbanks where access is only readily
available from one side. The major advantage of this form of construction is that it allows most
of the work to be carried out from behind the wall, thus minimising the time that operatives
must spend on the river bed. The costs of mobilizing the necessary equipment are very high
compared with the cost per unit installation, which makes sheet piles uneconomical when used
on a small area. In such a remote area this is completely unviable. Other concerns associated
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with sheet piles include a phenomenon known as accelerated low water corrosion which affects
the long term durability of steel piles as well as issues with scour.
8.2.3 Fabric Formwork
The idea behind this proposal is to construct an erosion control system, stabilise slopes and
propose an alternative construction system for the intake. This should provide a solution that is
of equal or lower cost but, more importantly, as structurally stable or more stable that the
solution currently in place. The idea involves filling fabric forms with fine aggregate concrete
(structural grout). As a result, they should provide superior performance to rip rap, cast-in-place
concrete, or pre-cast concrete erosion control systems while providing significant reductions in
construction costs. This could be used to stabilise slopes and at the same time form the walls of
the intake structure.

8.3 Use of Gabion Walls for an Intake Structure


Developing the concept proposed in Section 7.3.4 on the use of gabion walls to aid slope
stability, the issues of slope stability and provision of an intake structure could be combined and
developed into a multifunctional structural feature. As an alternative to concrete, the intake wall
could be constructed from gabions. These gabions would have good durability and a relatively
low initial cost to build, whilst aiding the stabilisation of adjacent slopes.
Concrete elements would still be needed along the faces adjacent to the river to prevent water
loss from the river into adjacent ground.
Calculations then showed that there is potential for the build up of excess pore water pressures
caused by surface run-off water flowing down the mountainside. These can be relieved using
outflow pipes that penetrate the concrete sidewalls of the structure, allowing this water to be
released.
Maintenance of the wall may be greater as vegetation is able to grow on the gabions and this
would have to be regularly cleared to prevent the roots from growing between the stones and
damaging the concrete lined wall, or interfering with the free flow of the any outfall pipes
present.
Where retaining structures exist along water courses, the design must incorporate protection
against under scour of the wall. This can be achieved by founding the gabion wall below the
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anticipated depth of scour or by using a gabion mattress to provide a scour apron. All river
walling should have a geotextile membrane behind and below the wall. The depth of mattress is
dependant on the flow velocity of the water and the soils type to the bed of the river.
I have designed drainage channels with considerations such as having filter cloth over the open
ends of piping to prevent material, apart from water, coming through.

8.4 Masonry Structures


Peruvian culture has a history of stone masonry structures that date back thousands of years to
structures built by Incan civilisations that remain standing to this day.

It is worthwhile

considering a masonry intake structure as this provides a solution that makes use of local
experience and technology and also uses materials that are readily available in the local area.
From my involvement with the NGO PREDES (El Centro de Estudios y Prevencin de
Desastres) I have been afforded the opportunity to study the work they have undertaken in the
River Rimac Basin. Each year the basin of the river Rimac is subject to natural disasters, with
most of the damage being caused by landslides. In an attempt to minimize the destructive effects
of these flows of debris on the populated areas further down the river basin, PREDES have
designed and built walls and dikes in the river basins impacted by the landslides. In this situation,
the walls are perpendicular to the flow of debris so that the moving material is interrupted by the
wall and loses energy as it moves down the river basin, and so it is partially held back by each
wall and its velocity reduced. I was able to visit some of these sites to look at the structures they
have implemented. My visit was some months after a landslide had occurred and I saw that
these walls varying in size from a metre several metres high were still intact, indicating that the
masonry structure deal with the forces required to retain large volumes of earth material thereby
preventing flood damage at the downstream sections.
These solutions are fairly simple to implement and repair, and would help stabilise the slopes
either side of the intake structure as well as be used to construct the intake structure itself.

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Figure 30: Masonry walls at Chosica used to limit damage by landslide.

These are existing structures designed by


PREDES. The walls hold back some of
the debris during landslides but there are
holes in the wall to prevent too large a force
being exerted on the wall, which could
result in the wall being destroyed.

8.4.1 Mass Gravity Side Walls for Intake Structure


The initial design considered was the creation of a mass retaining wall to form the sides of the
intake structure. This would involve a mass of masonry stone structure with reliance being
placed on self weight to satisfy stability requirements, both in respect of overturning, sliding and
flotation.

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Figure 31: Outline design for a masonry mass gravity side wall for an intake structure.

Figure 31 is a drawing I produced to indicate how a typical mass gravity side wall structure could
be built. This incorporates features that have been considered throughout the report, for
example the slight slope angle and the provision of drainage channels cutting through the
masonry mass wall to prevent the build up of pressure from ground water accumulating against
the side to the wall retaining the soil material. The water is then able to drain into the river
channel. As mentioned in Section 8.3, the drainage channels were designed with considerations
such as having filter cloth over the open ends of piping to prevent material, apart from water,
coming through.
I produced a simple program, similar in style to that described in Section 5.3.2.2, to provide an
easy analysis tool for Practical Action. The main principle behind the calculations was that the
resulting forces on the masonry would need to be such that no section of the masonry is put in
tension in order for the structure to be suitable.
With regards to the overall cost of this design, significantly lower quantities of concrete are
required, and the structure is comprised of mostly locally sourced stone thereby reducing
material and transport costs. The method of construction uses techniques more likely to be
familiar with the local people who are the primary construction workers for such schemes.

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8.5 Re-Design of an Intake System


The hard paper copies of a proposed micro-hydro scheme drawn in 1995 outlined the rough
geography of Minera Yanacocha S.A. located in Yanacancha as well as the micro-hydro scheme
yet to be constructed. It would seem that the design would lead to similar problems as noted in
other schemes due to lack of sufficient reinforcement, inefficient use of reinforcement, low
strength concrete used and inadequate quality control.
The features of the region were noted and an alternative design for the intake structure has been
proposed to take into account some of the ideas covered in this section of the report to illustrate
how such features could be implemented in practice by the NGO.
Figure 32 below are a sample of the drawings I produced for the detailed design of an intake
structure. It is based on ideas discussed throughout the report and calculations undertaken to
ensure structural stability.

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Figure 32: An alternative design for the intake structure at Minera Yanacocha. Drawings by author.

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9. PRACTICAL GUIDE
An important part of this type of research is the dissemination of findings and transfer of
knowledge so that improved technology can be developed and implemented with a view to
avoiding potential problems in the future. I decided it would be important to develop a practical
guide in order to clearly illustrate some of the problems identified through this research project.

Figure 33: Cover of the guide produced and some illustrations from the guide
Drawings and content by author.

Practical Action has a centre in the town of Cajamarca dedicated to training and capacity
building of local people with regard to these micro-hydro schemes and this idea of teaching and
technology transfer is a key part of their ethos. As part of the activities by Practical Action, I am
in the process of producing a practical design guide document (in English and Spanish) that
would address various potential problems encountered and remedial actions required. This
would also cover potential design options, early warnings and prevention of failures from the
point of view of the local people who are responsible for the building, maintaining and small
scale repairs of the micro-hydro scheme. A risk and value approach (Owen, 2009) would be a
central theme in the development of the appropriate technology for this region.

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Figure 34: Examples of illustrations of some of the construction processes (construction of


gabion baskets and stone masonry walls).

A separate document with more detailed explanations shall be produced; however, this guide is based on simple instructions
with minimal words. Dimensions marked are using Peruvian convention; for example, the dimensions in the figure above
are in inches.

The next stage of this process is to get the translations for this guide checked by a native speaker
from that region to confirm that it is clearly understandable. The language will be clear and
simple with illustrations for better understanding and amount of words written will be kept to a
minimum.

10. FURTHER WORK


Though the work on this research project is coming to a successful conclusion with regard to the
Part IIB Engineering course, I intend to continue with the work that I have been developing for
Practical Action. This primarily involves finalising the Practical Guide produced in both English
and Spanish as well as producing a technical report, similar to this one, in Spanish with my
research results and suggestions for improvements to the micro-hydroelectric works.
If any of the suggestions made prove to be appropriate or worthwhile to Practical Action to trial
or implement, I would be interested in returning to Cajamarca, Peru to help with the
development and assess how the effective they prove to be.
Subject to consent from the Engineering Department, I would be interested in checking some of
the proposed designs using scale model to investigate slope and water flow effects. This would
be of interest to Practical Action.

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RISK ASSESSMENT RETROSPECTIVE


Once in Peru, the initial proposal was updated in meetings with the local engineers and workers
including any further health and safety considerations not already covered. One of the moderate
risks identified included the fact that much of Peru is in an active seismic zone with frequent
tremors in some regions. Infrastructure in the area [surrounding Lima] remains affected (UK
Government' Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2009). All visits to this area were with
PREDES staff that are local and experienced in working in this area.
Other moderate risks related to taking care whilst travelling. The risk of flooding and landslides
was low as I was travelling out of the rainy season. The mountainous roads were very dangerous
and I was lucky to have qualified and experienced drivers employed. Practical Action and
PREDES vehicles were used for site visits, and these are regularly checked to ensure that they
are of suitable safety standard. There were times in the villages and cities when I had to travel
alone and it was then important that I chose the safest modes and routes possible, as suggested
by in-country contacts. In working with local engineers and people I followed their direction and
advice as to which regions are safe. Locations and the order of visits were planned with the
weather in mind.
I was warned that altitude often affects visitors to the area and in preparation I was given a few
days to acclimatise to the altitude on my arrival to Cajamarca. I have trekked at high altitude in
the past without problems, and despite travelling significant to heights (even above Cajamarca)
quite quickly by truck, I suffered no problems. I was often a guest in the homes of others, both
in towns and rural areas and this makes refusing food very difficult. I was fortunate to find that
people generally took a good view towards food hygiene; however I did become ill from time to
time. Prior to travel I had been immunised against diseases which occur in the area and checked
that my immunisations are up to date and I had taken out medical insurance. Many of the areas
I visited were in extremely remote areas, but I travelled with Practical Action and PREDES staff
at all times. The only concern in terms of disease was the H1N1 swine flu risk, which was a risk
in the UK at that moment, and I took the same protective measures as I would have done in the
UK. I carried waterless soap at all times.
The health and safety measures outlined for working at a desk on a laptop for extended periods
of time were followed to prevent injuries in carrying out work on return to the UK.
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BIBLIOGRAPHY
Books
Chow, V., Open Channel Hydraulics, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1959.
Davis, J., and Lambert, R., Engineering in Emergencies, 2nd ed., Rugby: Practical Action Publishing,
pp. 640-648, 2007.
Davila, C., Vilar, D., Villanueva, G. and Quiroz, L., Manual para la evaluacin de la demanda, recursos
hdricos, diseo e instalacin de microcentrales hidroelctricas, Lima: Soluciones Prcticas, 2009.
Farmer, R., Gabion Retaining Walls Part 2 A Practical Guide to the Design Analysis for Semi Gravity
Walls Using Maccaferri Gabion, Stevenage: The Technical Department, Cagex Ltd, DATE.
Mosley, W.H., Bungey, J.H., and Hulse R., Reinforced Concrete Design, 5th ed. New York: McGrawHill, 1972.
US Dept of the Interior, Design of Small Dams, Washington: United States Government Printing
Office, 1974.

Articles and Papers


Bhattacharjya, R. K., and Satish, M. G., Optimal Design of a Stable Trapezoidal Channel
Section Using Hybrid Optimization Techniques, ASCE Journal of Irrigation and Drainage
Engineering, vol. 323, Jul. 2007.
Obras Civiles de Bajo Costo para Microcentrales Hidroelctricas, HIDRORED La Red
Latinoamericana de Micro Hidroenerga, vol. 2006, pp. 18-23, Feb.2007.
ITDG, Manual para la evaluacin de la demanda, recursos hdricos, diseo e instalacin de microcentrales
hidroelctricas, Lima: Soluciones Prcticas - ITDG, Aug.2009.
Kerkes, D. J. and Fassett, J.B., Rapid Drawdown in Drainage Channels with Earthen Side
Slopes, Proceedings of the ASCE Texas Section Spring Meeting, Beaumont, Texas, 19-22 Apr. 2006.
Segura, J., and Rodrguez, L., Trazo y Revestimiento de Canales Tecnologa Apropiada para
Microcentrales Hidrulicas, Lima: Tecnologa Intermedia ITDG Programa de Hidroenerga, 1993.

Internal Reports
Owen, J., Risk and Value Overview, Anglian Water Presentation and Report, 2009.
Escuerdo, N. F.,

Informe Final - Proyecto: Microcentral Hidroelctrica Yanacancha,

ITDG, Cajamarca, Dec. 2004.


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Low Cost Structures in Micro-Hydroelectric Power Generation


ITDG, Perfil Tcnico: Microcentral Hidroelctrica El Regalado, Programa de ENISER,
Soluciones Prcticas ITDG, Sept. 2008.
ITDG, Perfil Tcnico: Microcentral Hidroelctrica Chontabamba, Programa de ENISER,
Soluciones Prcticas ITDG, Jan. 2008.
Martnez, V. A., Diseo de Canalizacin y Propuesta de Manejo Integral de Chosica
Chaclacayo 1992-1994, PREDES, Lima, Peru, Dec. 2006.
Rengifo, J. M., Informe Preliminar: Apreciaciones Geotcnicas y Condiciones de Riesgos en la
Microcentral Hidroelctrica De

Yanacancha Baja,

Cajamarca, Per, Programa PDGL,

Soluciones Prcticas ITDG, Tarapoto, Peru, Oct.2008.


Snchez, L. R., Obras Civiles En Microcentrales Hidrulicas, Programa de Energa de ITDGPer, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Peru, Dec.2000.
Turpaud, G. E. A., Evaluacin Del Comportamiento De Las Estructuras De Proteccin Y
Defensas De Los A.A. H.H. Nicols De Pirola, Pedregal Y Otros Chosica, PREDES, Lima,
Peru, Mar. 2009.

Standards
BSI BRITISH STANDARD, BS 8007:1987, Code of practice for Design of concrete structures
for retaining aqueous liquids, 1987
BSI BRITISH STANDARD, BS 8110: Part 1: 1997, Structural Use of Concrete, Part 1 Code
of practice for design and construction, 1998
BSI BRITISH STANDARD, BS8002:1994 Code of practice for earth retaining structures, 1994
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, EM 1110-2-2007, Engineering and Design - Structural
design of concrete lined, flood control channels, Washington, Apr. 1995.

Images and Websites


Practical Action, Micro-hydro power: the basics, labelled diagram, accessed 16 May 2010,
<http://practicalaction.org/energy/micro_hydro_faq>.
UK Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Travel & Living Peru, accessed 16 Jun
2009,

<http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/south-

america/peru1>.

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