Agricultural Drains and Safety of Dams

by James M. Verzuh, Bureau of Reclamation, Billings, United States,
Glen D. Sanders, Bureau of Reclamation, Billings, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Irrigation and Drainage: Saving a Threatened Resource—In Search of Solutions


Bonny Dam is located in east central Colorado on the South Fork Republican River. The dam's foundation is in the relatively porous Ogallala formation. Throughout the history of the dam, normal conservation pool elevations have produced sand boils near the downstream toe of the dam. As an interim measure, a subsurface drain employing agricultural drain design and construction techniques was built to stabilize the toe of the dam. Although additional work is anticipated for the condition of maximum reservoir elevation, the interim drain did maintain reduced piezometric levels at the toe of the dam, when the reservoir rose 2.4 ft. (0.73 m) above the top of conservation pool in June 1989. Data collected during that event indicate that the drain is capable of controlling a considerably higher reservoir elevation. This paper presents a discussion of the design and construction of the drain and the measurable results.

Subject Headings: Dams | Agriculture | Drainage | Dam safety | Rivers and streams | Infrastructure construction | Dam foundations | Soil pressure | Colorado | United States

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