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Canal Linings are provided in canals to resist the flow of water through its bed and sides. These can be constructed using different materials such as compacted earth, cement, concrete, plastics, boulders, bricks etc. The main advantage of canal lining is to protect the water from seepage loss.

What is Canal Lining?

Canal Lining is an impermeable layer provided for the bed and sides of canal to improve the life and discharge capacity of canal. 60 to 80% of water lost through seepage in an unlined canal can be saved by construction canal lining.

Canal Lining

Fig 1: Canal Lining

Types of Canal Linings

Canal linings are classified into two major types based on the nature of surface and they are:

  1. Earthen type lining
  2. Hard surface lining

1. Earthen Type lining

Earthen Type lings are again classified into two types and they are as follows:

  • Compacted Earth Lining
  • Soil Cement Lining

Compacted Earth Lining

Compacted earth linings are preferred for the canals when the earth is available near the site of construction or In-situ. If the earth is not available near the site then it becomes costlier to construct compacted earth lining.

Compaction reduces soil pore sizes by displacing air and water. Reduction in void size increases the density, compressive strength and shear strength of the soil and reduces permeability. This is accompanied by a reduction in volume and settlement of the surface. Proper compaction is essential to increase the stability and frost resistance (where required) and to decrease erosion and seepage losses.

Compacted Earth Lining

Fig 2: Compacted Earth Lining

Soil Cement Lining

Soil-cement linings are constructed with mixtures of sandy soil, cement and water, which harden to a concrete-like material. The cement content should be minimum 2-8% of the soil by volume. However, larger cement contents are also used.

In general, for the construction of soil-cement linings following two methods are used.

  • Dry-mix method
  • Plastic mix method

For erosion protection and additional strength in large channels, the layer of soil-cement is sometimes covered with coarse soil. It is recommended the soil-cement lining should be protected from the weather for seven days by spreading approximately 50 mm of soil, straw or hessian bags over it and keeping the cover moistened to allow proper curing. Water sprinkling should continue for 28 days following installation.

Soil Cement Lining

Fig 3: Soil Cement Lining

2. Hard Surface Canal Linings

It is sub divided into 4 types and they are

  • Cement Concrete Lining
  • Brick Lining
  • Plastic Lining
  • Boulder Lining

Cement Concrete Lining

Cement Concrete linings are widely used, with benefits justifying their relatively high cost. They are tough, durable, relatively impermeable and hydraulically efficient. Concrete linings are suitable for both small and large channels and both high and low flow velocities. They fulfill every purpose of lining.

There are several procedures of lining using cement concrete

  • Cast in situ lining
  • Shortcrete lining
  • Precast concrete lining
  • Cement mortar lining
Cement Concrete Lining

Fig 4: Cement Concrete Lining

Brick Lining

In case of brick lining, bricks are laid using cement mortar on the sides and bed of the canal. After laying bricks, smooth finish is provided on the surface using cement mortar.

Fig 5: Construction of Brick Canal Lining

Plastic Lining

Plastic lining of canal is newly developed technique and holds good promise. There are three types of plastic membranes which are used for canal lining, namely:

  • Low density poly ethylene
  • High molecular high density polythene
  • Polyvinyl chloride

The advantages of providing plastic lining to the canal are many as plastic is negligible in weight, easy for handling, spreading and transport, immune to chemical action and speedy construction.

The plastic film is spread on the prepared sub-grade of the canal. To anchor the membrane on the banks ‘V trenches are provided. The film is then covered with protective soil cover.

Plastic Canal Lining

Fig 6: Plastic Canal Lining

Boulder Lining

This type of lining is constructed with dressed stone blocks laid in mortar. Properly dressed stones are not available in nature. Irregular stone blocks are dressed and chipped off as per requirement.

When roughly dressed stones are used for lining, the surface is rendered rough which may put lot of resistance to flow. Technically the coefficient of rugosity will be higher. Thus the stone lining is limited to the situation where loss of head is not an important consideration and where stones are available at moderate cost.

Canal Lined with Boulders

Fig 7: Canal Lined with Boulders

Advantages of Canal Lining

  1. Seepage Reduction
  2. Prevention of Water Logging
  3. Increase in Commanded Area
  4. Increase in Channel Capacity
  5. Less Maintenance
  6. Safety Against Floods

1. Seepage Reduction

The main purpose behind the lining of canal is to reduce the seepage losses. In some soils, the seepage loss of water in unlined canals is about 25 to 50% of total water supplied. The cost of canal lining is high but it is justifiable for its efforts in saving of most of the water from seepage losses. Canal lining is not necessary if seepage losses are very small.

2. Prevention of Water Logging

Water logging is caused due to phenomenal rise in water table due to uncontrolled seepage in an unlined canal. This seepage effects the surrounding ground water table and makes the land unsuitable for irrigation. So, this problem of water logging can be surely prevented by providing proper lining to the canal sides.

3. Increase in Commanded Area

Commanded area is the area which is suitable for irrigation purpose. The water carrying capacity of lined canal is much higher than the unlined canal and hence more area can be irrigated using lined canals.

4. Increase in Channel Capacity

Canal lining can also increase the channel capacity. The lined canal surface is generally smooth and allows water to flow with high velocity compared to unlined channel. Higher the velocity of flow greater is the capacity of channel and hence channel capacity will increase by providing lining.

On the other side with this increase in capacity, channel dimensions can also be reduce to maintain the previous capacity of unlined canal which saves the cost of the project.

5. Less Maintenance

Maintenance of lined canal is easier than unlined canals. Generally there is a problem of silting in unlined canal which removal requires huge expenditure but in case of lined canals, because of high velocity of flow, the silt is easily carried away by the water.

In case of unlined canals, there is a chance of growth of vegetation on the canal surface but not in case of lined canals. The vegetation affect the velocity of flow and water carrying capacity of channel. Lined canal also prevents damage of canal surface due to rats or insects.

6. Safety against Floods

A line canal always withstand against floods while unlined canal may not resists and also there is chance of occurring of breach which damages the whole canal as well as surrounding areas or fields.  But among the all concrete canal linings are good against floods or high velocity flows.

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Sadanandam Anupoju

Sadanandam Anupoju

EDITOR
Sadananda is a Civil Engineer and is an Author, Editor and Partner of The Constructor since 2016.

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