Geocell Systems Help Rehabilitate Canals

Aug. 25, 2014

Different materials have been tried across the western U.S. over the past few decades to protect irrigation canal liners. One typical method uses low-cost earthen material like clay. Over time, however, these systems begin to crack and leak. “It’s not a very efficient way to convey water,” said Joe Kaul of Kaul Corp., Presto Geosystems’ Western States representative and geosynthetics supplier. 

A 10-year canal lining study by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation tested four canal types for a multitude of factors, including construction and maintenance costs, durability and effectiveness against seepage. One of the tested canal lining types, geomembranes with concrete covers, offered the highest long-term performance results.

Kaul introduced the concrete-filled 3-D geocellular Geoweb system to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as an effective geomembrane cover solution. The system has more than 30 years of proven success protecting geomembranes in a multitude of industries, and Kaul believed it could help provide a better long-term solution.

Gary Kennedy, superintendent for the Mancos Water Conservancy District in Colorado, noted that the region had been rehabilitating its canal systems for a number of years. Materials considered for several sites included shotcrete covers and individual concrete tiles, both commonly used to protect liners. 

Ultimately, the concrete-filled Geoweb solution was chosen. It offers protection from expansion and contraction issues caused by freeze-thaw cycles, and the ability to flex and conform to minor subgrade movement and reduce long-term maintenance costs. The 3-D structure eliminates the need for steel reinforcement and expansion joints. Its cells control concrete shrinkage cracks, allow flexing and some movement, provide consistent infill depth and accommodate a higher slump concrete, facilitating faster concrete placement.

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