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Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 The problem of sediment transport and its control

has always been a challenge to designers of

irrigation systems.
 Unlined canals can get choked or silted by
sediment brought by the river water.
 Some examples are discussed as to highlight how
enormous is the magnitude of silt tonnage is

The River Sutlej transports around 35 millions tons of

sediment per year to Sulamanki Barrage,

River Indus carried a total load of 440 millions tons per

year at Tarbela.

River Jhelum carries 70 millions tons approximately


 The Warsak reservoir on River Kabul built in 1960, had initial

live storage of 23,000 acre feet which in the first ten years
reduced to a residual minimum of 10,000 acre feet.

Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 Tarbela reservoir with initial live storage of 9.3

million acre feet when completed in 1975, will

reduce to one million acre feet in fifty years.
 The Mangla reservoir will loose 30% of its live
storage in same period.
 Yangteze River is called Yellow River because of its
colour due to heavy sediment load it carries all the
year averaging 61 lbs per cu.ft of water.

Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 The construction of the Mangla and Tarbela

reservoirs on the two main Rivers has partly

reduced the silt, but the problem of silting of the
canal system continues to persist to a great extent.
 The intake of Upper Bari Doab (UBD) canal on
Sutlej River at Madhopur in India got completely
silted up soon after the construction of a
permanent weir in 1870. The amount of silt
entering UBD canal has been estimated at 168,000
cu ft to 2268000 cu ft per day ( in years of 1939 to

Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 The Marala Ravi link Canal taking off at Marala

barrage on the river Chenab has silted up to depth

of 9 ft (maximum) out of a total design depth of
14.5 ft in its upper reach.

Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 On contrary the building of High Aswan dam on

the Nile, has created erosion problems in the canal

system downstream.
 The lake of High Aswan dam excludes the silt from
flowing downstream, depriving the farmers of the
rich soil they used to receive along with the
irrigation water, in addition to serious problems of
deep scouring of the foundations of hydraulic
structures located downstream of the dam.

Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 Here we will discuss various methods that have

been adopted to exclude and eject silt from canal

or to distribute it in such a manner that all the silt
entering the canal passes on the fields to add the
fertility of the soil. There are four possible methods
 i) arranging the head works as to exclude the silt as
much as possible from the canal
 ii) To make arrangements to eject the silt which
has already entered the canal, or properly
distribute it to the off taking distributary

Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 iii) to design an unlined canal which will produce the

required non silting and non scouring velocity, in

other words a design that will ensure that the amount
of the silt entering the canal is passed on to the field.
 iv) to design the outlets and their setting so as to draw
an equitable share of silt.

Silt control in Irrigation Canals

 The following diagram summarizes the approach to

the problem of silt control

of silt at

By ejection
of silt from
the canal

By proper

By proper
design and
setting of

Exclusion of Silt at Entrance

Wall and

wall and
river bend


Divide Wall and pocket

 A divide wall parallel to the head regulator creates a pocket

in front of the canal entrance where silt is deposited in the

river bed due to reduction in velocity.
 This measure was first proposed by Kennedy in 1904 when
Sirhind canal threatened almost to choke the regulator due
to excessive silt.
 A divide wall was suggested and along with an undersluice
to clear the deposited silt.
 The undersluice gates are closed when the water is flowing
into the canals. The necessary pond level is maintained by
working the gates of normal weir section.

Divide Wall and pocket

Divide Wall and pocket

 The sediment deposited in the pocket is washed away

by closing the canal regulator gates and opening the

undersluices gates.

Training wall and River Bend

 Curved training wall in front of the head regulator on

small canals where flow rate and sediment discharge

both fluctuate have been used successfully by USBR.
 The Woodstone diversion dam on the south fork, River
Solomon, Kansas is an example.
 In order to work the system properly, the structure
must have enough water available for sluicing.

Training wall and River Bend

 Natural river curvature can be exploited with an

advantage as a silt exclusion device by locating the

barrage on the bend and the canal regulator on the
outside of the curve.
 The heavy load swept inside the curve and the
sediment concentration on the outside is lower than at
other points.
 This effect is due to the spiral flow as explained by

Silt Excluders
 The idea of the silt excluder was first presented by

Elsdon in his Irrigation Branch paper No. 5 in 1992. the

first silt excluder was designed by Nicolson at Khanki
head works in 1934.
 The basic idea behind the design is that the lower
layers of the flowing water carry higher concentration
of silt and therefore of the upper layers of the water
only can be skimmed into the canal, all the rolling bed
silt and the silt in the lower layers is excluded.

Silt Excluders
 This is achieved by a silt excluder. This is a diaphragm

slab supported on a number of tunnels. Tunnels are

placed parallel to head regulator and discharge d/s
through the undersluice.
 The water above the silt excluder slab containing less
silt is then diverted into the canal. The following
points should be kept in mind while designing a silt

Silt Excluders

Silt Excluders

Silt Excluders

The tunnel discharge through the under-sluice is

recommended to be 20% of the canal discharge.
 2. The silt excluder should cover only two bays of the
under-sluice as this was found to be more efficient in the
model studies of Kalabagh barrage than a silt excluder
covering four bays.
 3. The approach channel need not be lined.
 4. The divide wall should be 1.2 to 1.4 times the head
regulator length.

Silt Excluders

The top of the silt excluder slab should be flushed

with the head regulator crest, i.e. the clear height of the
tunnels would be 1/3 the depth of the water minus the slab
6. The roof slab should be designed to carry a full water
load in case the tunnels are empty.
7. The first tunnel should cover all the head length.
8. The discharge through the tunnels will depend upon
the head measured above the centre line of the tunnel.
Tunnels can be treated as box culverts.
9. The velocity in tunnels should be 6 ft/sec to 10 ft/sec.

Silt Ejector
 It employees the same principle of sediment removal

as the silt excluder except that it is placed in the bed of

the canal and is located about 1000 yards d/s of the
head regulator.
 It consists of a horizontal slab a little above the canal
bed, which separates out the bottom layers. Under the
slab there are tunnels to eject heavy silt laden bottom
water in an escape channel. For designing of silt
ejector the following points should be kept in mind

Silt Ejector

Silt Ejector

It should be located about 1000 yards d/s of the

head regulator.
 2. The bed width of the canal is divided into a
number of tunnels. These tunnels curve to right or left
and pass under the canal bank to terminate in a
regulator, which is provided with gates to regulate the
 3. The height of the tunnel should be 20 to 25% of
the design depth of water in canal.
 4. The top slab of the tunnels usually project 1.5 ft to
2 ft U/S at the entrance.

Silt Ejector

20% of the canal discharge is usually diverted into

the ejector. This means that 20% additional discharge
over and above the canal design discharge is allowed to
enter the canal at the head regulator.
 6. The method of calculating the discharge is the
same as that for the silt excluder.
 7. Normally a minimum head of at least 2.5 ft is
required to operate the ejector.
 8. A velocity of 8 ft to 10 ft/sec through the tunnel is
adequate to move sand size sediment.