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Historically, inland waterways have been used for transportation purposes. In certain countries, it is one of the major components of transportation system.
In the article, different types of waterway and along advantages and applications will be discussed.
Fig.1: Types of Inland Waterways
What are the advantages of inland waterways?
- It needs and consumes low energy. It is claimed that, the quantity of energy that is consumed in inland waterway is less than 30 percent of that used in road transportation and around 80 percent of the energy amount used by rail transportation.
- Massive size of goods and products can be transported with great ease using inland waterways.
- It needs small lands.
- It causes the minimum environmental pollution including noise pollution and CO2 emission in comparison with other modes of transportation.
- It has high labor productivity per unit of transport output.
- Low material requirement per unit of transport volume. It is demonstrated that, the material requirement of inland waterway transport is less than half of railway and smaller than quarter of highway transport.
- It has the lowest accident occurrence compare with other forms of transportation.
What are the types of inland waterways?
There are three major types of inland waterway which are discussed in the following sections:
- The first type of inland waterway transport is natural channel or river or part of river that its flow is not changed. So, the inland waterway is entirely natural. However, it is possible to enhance channel river by river training works.
- Canalized river is another type of inland waterways that its flow is governed by engineering works to a certain extent.
- Final type of inland waterway is completely an engineering work. The canal is constructed by diverting river or pumping from reservoir.
It is worth mentioning that, the economic commission for Europe established a classification for inland waterway based on the dimension and the load carrying capacity of the vessels. This classification of inland waterways is provided in Table 1.
Table-1: Classification of inland waterways based on the tonnage and dimension of the vessels
|Waterways classes||Load carrying capacity of vessels in, tones|
|Class I||? 400|
|Class II||? 650|
|Class III||? 1000|
|Class IV||? 1500|
|Class V||? 3000|
|Class VI||> 3000|
Applications of Inland Waterways
In addition to water navigation, inland waterways can also be used for other applications. The following section will discuss these applications of navigation waterways:
- Employ water power in plants constructed close to the navigation locks.
- Provide flood protection on trained rivers.
- Offer off take facility for water supply.
- Drainage of adjacent land
- Waste water disposal
- Lastly, provision of recreational facilities and general enhancement of the environment.
The utilization of inland waterway for purposes other than water transport cause some problems for example when plants are operating at peak rate, then a sudden and powerful force caused by released water would be imposed on the on the canal and canalized river.
This force could lead to serious problems in the inland waterways. So, it is necessary to take necessary measures to prevent the deterioration that may be experienced by the inland waterways while the plant operate at its ultimate rate.
These measures could be mechanical or electrical; an example of the former is disconnecting the connection between guide and runner vanes of Kaplan turbines. An example of the latter case is switching off the generator outlet to water resistance.
These measures cannot eliminate the influence of sudden and effective force that affect the inland waterways but rather decrease the danger on the inland waterways.
Some real examples of inland water ways in the world
There are several strategic inland waterways which are part of transportation systems. For example, Manchester ship canal and Gloucester ship canal in the United Kingdom and Erie Canal as shown in Figure 2.
Fig.2: Inland water ways in the world