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Bulacan State University Civil Engineering Department

FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS

Apart from direct loss of life, properties and crops, floods damage roads, railways and other
communication systems, which cannot be assessed so easily. All these have after effects in
the countrys economy. Epidemics which spread out during the post-flood season have to be
fought on a war-footing at the expense of large sums of public money. It is not possible to
assess all the human suffering and misery resulting from a flood in monetary terms.
The assessment of flood is important because in any flood control scheme the government
has to be satisfied that the benefits arising out of the contemplated scheme (i.e., the
damages prevented) will be more than the cost of the project. Such economic justification of
flood control scheme can be made only if the flood damage data are available for the
different floods of varying magnitude occurring over a period of time.
CAUSES OF FLOODS
1) Excessive rainfall leading to extraordinary run-off
2) Poor drainage system and drains of inadequate capacity
3) Silting up of the natural drains and river bed from sediments due to erosion in the catchment
area
4) The construction of embankments, spurs, bridges, weirs, etc. on the riverbank and bed,
leading to the constriction of the normal width of a river.
5) Gradual encroachment of flood plain area by human settlement and other activities, leading
to a loss in the draining capacity of the river and a consequent rise in the flood level
6) Highly meandering rivers often change their course, resulting in a great loss of life and
property
7) Sudden failure of water-retaining structures, e.g., dams, barrages, embankments, etc., can
cause untold damage to life and property
8) In deltaic areas, floods are caused due to sudden diversion of flow from an existing channel
into another channel of poor conveying capacity.
9) In tidal rivers, the seawaters start moving up during high tide, leading to a complete
blockage of the upland flow in the river. This causes a rise in the water level and consequent
flooding.
10) Sea waves from extraordinary storms can flood and cause substantial loss of life and property
in the coastal areas.
11) Excessive snowmelt combined with rainfall, run-off can cause flood.
REMEDIAL MEASURES
The various measures which are often thought of and implemented can be broadly subdivided into:
A) Engineering measures for the protection of areas prone to flood
B) Administrative measures of flood plain regulation and management
C) Flood forecasting and flood warning
D) Engineering and administrative measures for flood fighting
A) Engineering measures for the protection of areas prone to flood
a) Reduction of flood peak
Construction of storage reservoir in hilly and sub-hilly regions
These storage reservoirs constructed in the unproductive hilly and sub-hilly areas can
detain a large part of the run-off (coming from catchment areas upstream) for a certain
period of time during the critical storm period to substantially reduce the run-off in the
lower reaches affected by flood. As the storm subsides (or its intensity decreases), the
stored flow is released in a regulated way so that the storage space can be kept vacant
for the absorption of flood during subsequent storm.
Increasing infiltration by natural or artificial recharges
Due to the increasing pressure of population, more and more areas are being paved for
human habitation, industries, roads, etc. this has resulted in a reduction in the natural
infiltration. The loss of vegetative cover and forests is also largely responsible for the
greater surface run-off. Afforestation and vegetation increase natural infiltration.
FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS | Irrigation and Drainage Engineering

Bulacan State University Civil Engineering Department

Diversion and spreading of the flood water into areas where aquifers can be recharged
naturally or artificially not only help preserve the water resources for subsequent
pumping, but help in the substantial reduction of the surface run-off and the
corresponding flood peak. It is known that there are underground reservoirs in the form
of aquifers, which have a storing capacity much larger than even the biggest man-made
surface reservoirs such as the Aswan Dam over the river Nile in Egypt.
Diversion of run-off
The diversion of run-off through subsidiary channels of the same river or to selected
depressions or lakes can relieve the flood intensity in a given channel. It has often been
experienced that when a certain basin is threatened with flood due to excessive run-off,
some adjoining basin has a drought situation.
(b) Improving conveyance
Construction of levees
During constant silting of the river bed, it gets shallower every year. During the peak
flood, the water level rises above the bank since the shallow section up to the natural
bank level is totally inadequate to convey the required flood flow.
The provision of a flood embankment not only prevents spilling, but also offers much
greater area and hydraulic radius within the banks, thereby increasing the conveying
capacity.
Dredging of channel
The removal of silts form the bed and bank to deepen and widen the channel can
improve the capacity of the channel substantially. Dredging may be done to improve the
capacity of small reach which might have silted owing to some local factors. But when a
large length of a river gets silted up, dredging will be prohibitively costly.
Soil conservation and sediment control
It is largely due to deposition of sediments eroded from hilly areas that the channels lose
their conveying capacity in its downhill reaches. Sediments may be trapped through
check dams and made to deposit in storage reservoirs upstream, allowing comparatively
clear water (free from objectionable sediments) to flow downstream. The most effective
means of sediment control is to check the process of erosion in the catchment areas
through afforestation and other popular soil conservation measures. This will definitely
lead to substantial improvement of the channel capacity in the long run.
Revetment (mattressing)
A natural channel bed and bank is extremely rough owing to its irregular shape of crosssection (arising from local scour and deposition). If the same channel can be paved with
concrete or a similar other material, it can offer much smoother surface offering very
little resistance.
For large rivers, however, paving of the entire bed and bank is not practicable. Even
partial revetment in a part of the channel banks can improve conveyance, besides the
prevention of erosion of banks.
Natural and artificial cut-offs
All natural channels are found to meander within a certain belt of area. The meandering
channels develop sharp bends by eroding the outer bank and depositing on the inner
banks. As the degree of tortuosity increases, the resistance of the flow increases and
conveyance decreases. The increased resistance is due to the head losses in separation
pockets around the channel bends. The gradually-increasing resistance owing to
increasing meandering raises the flood level upstream. The natural or artificial cut-off
helps in straightening the river by avoiding dangerous loops. This results in increased
conveyance (partly due to shorter length, but mostly due to avoiding head loss in the
loops and consequent lowering of the high flood level (HFL).
Clearance of weeds and other vegetative matter from channel bed
The roughness of a channel increases many folds owing to the growth of weeds and
other jungles on the channel bed and banks. Before the flood season such obstructions
should be cleared in order to improve conveyance.
Removal of artificial obstructions and careful design of waterway for river structures
All artificial obstructions in the natural bed of the river constructed during the off-flood
dry season (e.g., temporary roads, farms, etc.) should be removed before the flood
FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS | Irrigation and Drainage Engineering

Bulacan State University Civil Engineering Department

season. Where permanent structures of public utility, such as road and rail bridges,
weirs, intake works, navigation locks, etc. are to be constructed, their hydraulic design
should be made very carefully. It should be understood that any constriction of natural
stream, either in the vertical or horizontal plane, unless carefully designed from the point
of view of greater hydraulic efficiency, is bound to increase afflux which spreads over a
long distance upstream. As the flow velocity decreases upstream due to afflux, there is
more of sediments deposition causing a further loss of conveyance and consequently
more and more rise of the HFL than what it was prior to the construction.
Maintenance of river training works
The various constructions, viz. dams, weirs, embankments, guide bundhs and other
training works constructed for training the river and for other public utility services,
should be carefully maintained. Negligence in proper supervision and maintenance of
such works has often caused sudden failure of such works resulting in catastrophic loss
of life and property.
B) Administrative measures of Flood Plain Regulation and Management
The magnitude of peak flood varies from year to year. Floods of very high magnitude are of rare
occurrence. Owing to the availability of water and fertile soil in the flood plain area, people tend
to gradually shift their activities within the flood plain during the years of low flood intensity.
This tendency is more in urban and semi-urban areas, where land is limited and the population
density is very high. Many new cities have their expansion in areas which once belonged to the
river. The loss of such areas to the river for natural storage in its own valley has resulted in an
increasing flood peak and consequent rise in flood level.
However, the more important aspect which is to be carefully considered is the risk of damage to
such areas built within the flood plain during the passage of an extraordinary flood. Based on
economic considerations, a certain zone of the flood plain should not be allowed to be
encroached upon by regulations. Even the types of development which may be allowed in the
encroached areas should be carefully regulated, so that there is no overall loss, considering the
benefits on the one hand and the probable damages on the other. These being very intricate
subjects involving statistical analysis of probable floods and associated damages, the
responsibility of flood plain regulation and management should be left to people specialized in
these areas.
C) Flood Forecasting and Flood Warning
All rivers that are susceptible to flood should have adequate arrangements of flood forecasts
and flood warning. Based on observations of storms and river gauge readings in the upstream
catchment areas, it is possible to forecast the magnitude, stage, and the duration and time of
occurrence of flood at any downstream point in the river. With the help of modern fast
communication techniques, it is now possible to instantly transmit the data observed in the
upper catchment to some centrally located flood forecasting station. Based on hydrologic
computations the forecasting unit can predict the exact timing, magnitude and duration of the
flood at different points in the river valley. Forecasts have great social and economic value, and
help avoid unnecessary expense in business, industry and agriculture. Not only that much
valuable property can be saved by timely action. People get sufficient time to prepare for
fighting flood and plan activities accordingly. River forecasts are of great help to navigators,
shipping interests, power plant operators and other innumerable agencies operating in the river.
Flood warnings are issued much later after the verification of forecasts from the actual river
gauge data upstream.
Since a great deal of public inconvenience is related to such warnings, these should be carefully
planned after systematic and scientific evaluation of data.
D) Engineering and Administrative Measures for Flood Fighting
As in the case of a fire-fighting agency, there is a need for scientific, organized and systematic
agency for flood fighting which can be depended upon and readily put into immediate action in
times of emergency. A substantial amount of administrative and engineering planning is
required for the successful fighting of flood. Some of the basic requirements to be met are:

Prediction of flood stage


Areas threatened
Assistance required
Quick dissemination of these information to all concerned

FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS | Irrigation and Drainage Engineering

Bulacan State University Civil Engineering Department

Evacuation of persons from areas that have been or will be flooded


Saving of some of the tidal areas from flooding by emergency reinforcing or construction
of protective works
Care of evacuated persons, including disease prevention
Assessing the extent of damage
Repair of damages and rehabilitation

Some of the emergency construction methods in flood fighting are:

Drainage of landslide levee slope


Mattressing of sloughs and slides
Ringing of sand boils
Heightening to stop overtopping
Protection against scouring and caving of banks
Closure of crevasses and breaches

RIVER TRAINING WORKS


Water flowing in streams and rivers is one of the most important natural resources of a
nation. This wealth can only be effectively utilized if rivers are trained and controlled to the
best advantage of mankind. Some of the important uses of river and river water are:

Municipal use
Most modern cities as well as old ones have been built by the side of rivers. Rivers provide a
natural source of water which can be diverted for human consumption and other domestic
uses after some amount of treatment.

Industrial use
Water is required by almost all kinds of industries, e.g., steel, jute, paper and pulp, fiber, food
processing, fertilizer, and so on. One of the most important facilities to be provided for
industrial growth is easy and cheap availability of water.

Agricultural use
With the increasing pressure of population, the same land has to be cultivated twice or thrice
in a year for more food. Off-season supply of stored river water has been utilized for irrigation
purposes.

Generation of hydro-power
River water is the input raw material for all hydro-electric plants, constructed either on the
river or away from the river, which utilizes the natural head of the terrain or the head created
by storage dams for the generation of cheap electric power. Water has the unique feature in
that there is no loss of resources and the same water can be used over and over again for as
many numbers of hydro-plants as can be constructed along a river.

Transportation
Inland waterways through a river offer the cheapest mode of transport and communication. It
is for this reason that most of important cities have come up along a river for its commercial
benefit.

Disposal of run-off
A river being the natural drain, all the municipal and industrial wastes ultimately find its exit
in the river where it gets self-purified through the process of oxidation and other bio-chemical
reactions. The natural run-off from the land mass is quickly drained through the river system.
Areas having poor drainage are susceptible to waterlogging and flooding.

Fisiculture, afforestation, health resorts, recreation, etc.


Because of biowastes and other minerals present in river water, fish grow in river naturally
and provide cheap protein for human consumption. Forestries are usually made by river
banks upstream owing to the availability of water and for checking erosion of soil. Health
resorts are preferred along river banks in hilly and sub-hilly areas because of fresh air and the
natural scenario. The river side has also a unique recreational value,

FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS | Irrigation and Drainage Engineering

Bulacan State University Civil Engineering Department

Necessities and Objectives of River Training Works


If the river does not follow a given course, the various structures made on the river or by its
side are of no use. The necessity of river training arises owing to the fact that a natural river
without any control is often found to change its course, meander, scour its bank, silt its bed
and inundate adjoining areas, bringing untold misery to the local inhabitants in the form of
loss of life and property. The various objectives of river training are summarized below:

To
To
To
To
To

reduce flood hazards


control meandering and bank erosion
control sediment movement
maintain a safe and good navigable channel
guide the river to follow a given course

Engineering Principles and Methods of River Training


River training broadly covers all engineering works constructed on a river to guide and
confine the flow to the river channel, control and regulate the flow of water and sediments to
make the best possible use of the river and river water, and also to fulfill the various
objectives, e.g., flood control, navigation, etc. The training measures are so diverse and
serve equally diverse purposes that laying down any rigid rules is impracticable. The training
principles and practices are bound to vary from river to river and form one reach of a river to
another, depending on the local conditions and objectives. Some of the important objectives
and methods of river training and their underlying principles are given in Table 9.1.
Levees (or Embankments)
A levee or dyke maybe defined as an earthen embankment extending generally parallel to
the river channel and designed to protect the area behind it (levee) from damage due to the
overflowing flood water. Owing to easy availability of materials of construction and easy
method of construction, levees have been used exclusively in flood protection and river
training works all over the world.
Spurs (or Groynes)
Spurs are structures constructed transverse to the river flow and extend from the bank into
the river. They serve one or more of the following functions:
1. Training the river along a desired course by attracting, deflecting or repelling the flow in a
channel.
2. Creating a slack flow with the object of silting up of the area in the vicinity.
3. Protecting the river bank from erosion by keeping the main river flow away from it.
4. Contracting a wide river channel for the improvement of depth of navigation.
Guide Banks (or Bells Bundh)
Guide banks are, as the name implies, artificial embankments meant for guiding the flow
past a bridge, weir or barrage, without causing any damage to the structure and their
approaches. They are placed in the direction of the flow both upstream and downstream of
the abutment, on one or both the banks, as required,
Revetments (or Mattresses)
Revetments (or mattressing) are the direct protective works on the river banks against
caving which is one of the common causes of failure of river banks, be it natural or manmade. Meandering and change of course are intimately related to caving of banks. Bank
protection, therefore, forms an important part of river training works.
Cut-of
It is a natural (or artificial) process by which an alluvial river abandons (or is made to
abandon) its ever-increasing length along the meandering loop and follow (or made to
follow) a shorter and comparatively straighter path.
Dredging
Among the methods of regulation of a river for navigation, dredging is a common remedy.
Natural scour is useful in its own way. However, it may not be able to maintain depths
throughout the year because the flow changes form season to season. Dredging is useful
when there is sand-bar formation during falling stage of a river. Estuaries and coastal areas
subjected to tidal effect need to be constantly maintained by systematic dredging. Harbours
in the river mouth to the sea require extensive dredging.

FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS | Irrigation and Drainage Engineering

Bulacan State University Civil Engineering Department

The simplest form of dredging is that in which the material is merely broken up, loosened
and disintegrated, and let to be transported out of the channel by the tractive force of the
current. In another case, the material is pumped and raised by buckets and discharged by
pipes onto adjacent lands. Occasionally, the material is discharged into barges, transported
and dumped in pre-selected low lying spots. Sometimes, the dredger itself can lift and
transport the materials.
Table 9.1 Objectives, Methods, Principles of River Training
Objectives

Flood Control

Methods of Training
Storage and detention reservoirs,
recharging of ground water,
diversion of flood flow
Dredging, levees, soil conservation,
revetment, cut-off, clearing weeds
and obstructions

Prevention of
erosion of banks

Levees, spurs (or groynes0,


revetment, mattressing, bank soil
stabilization

Prevention of hill
slips

Stone spurs, sausages, retaining


walls, intercepting surface drains,
sub-surfaces drainage, plantations

Underlying Principles
Reduce peak flood
Improve conveyance of
channel
Artificially strengthen the
banks, spurs deflect high
velocity current away
from banks and
encourage siltation in
eddy pockets in between
spurs
Prevent erosion of toe;
deflect high velocity
currents away from bank;
drainage controls
seepage, gullying and
piping and improves
shear strength;
plantations stabilize the
soil and prevent erosion

Sediment control:

(a) Preventing
aggradation of
river bed

Storage reservoir, soil conservation


in catchment areas through
afforestation, checks, grassing,
contour bunding, cultivation
practices. Gully control, prevention
of bank erosion. Dredging, diversion
of sediment to offtaking channel.
Intensity flow per unit width by
construction of embankment and
spurs; fresch upland discharge
through feeder canals

(b) Exclusion of
sediments from
diverted flow for
irrigation, power,
etc.

Proper location of offtake; proper


layout of offtaking channel;
construction of sediment excluders
and ejectors, divide wall, scouring
sluices, dredging, etc.

(c) Prevention of
sedimentation of
storage reservoirs

Navigation:

Soil conservation measures in the


catchment areas; use of density
current for removal of sediment
through outlets and sluices; less of
solid obstruction and move flexible
obstruction by providing high head
gates as in the case of barrages;
dredging
Weirs and locks; spurs;
embankment; walls; bandalling;
bottom paneling; cut-off; increased
flow (diverted) through feeder canal;
lateral diversion canals with or
without locks for bypassing rapids
and other major obstructions in river

Arrest sediment flow into


river; control erosion of
bank material; remove
sediments from the bed;
spurs trap sediments in
the dead pockets
between them; tractive
power of river flow is
increased by narrowing it
with embankment and
spurs or by increasing
the discharge intensity,
i.e., flow per unit width.
Offtake from concave
side (outer bank) will
have less sediments as
the sediments move
away from outer bank to
inner bank; maintaining
deep channel near
offtake point; causing
settlement of sediments
and flushing out; physical
removal of sediments
entering the canal.
Arresting sediment inflow
into reservoir; removal of
sediments entering the
reservoirs; periodic
flushing of deposited
sediments by lifting high
head gates during floods
Series of weirs tames the
river due to afflux and
backwater effect; depth
increases; spurs,
embankments and walls
confine the flow to a
narrow reach and
thereby increases depth

FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS | Irrigation and Drainage Engineering

Bulacan State University Civil Engineering Department

Protection of
structures, e.g.,
weirs, bridges, etc.

Guide banks; embankments and


spurs; revetment; pitched islands

Prevention of
pollution

Storage dams; treatment of effluents


before disposal to river

of flow; cut-off reduces


meandering
Guide the course of river
to make it flow in the
defined course, without
causing out-flanking and
damage to such
structures
Reduce concentration of
pollution by supplying
fresh water from storage
reservoirs during lean
season

FLOOD CONTROL AND RIVER TRAINING WORKS | Irrigation and Drainage Engineering