Canals and Revetment Works: What Makes This an Important Engineering Project?

28 April 2017

In olden days, before railways existed, long canals carried merchandise from small ports. Unfortunately, the slow-moving barges took days to carry their loads to faraway distribution warehouses. Today’s canals are tasked with a different but no less important role. The engineered waterways carry water over long distances, perhaps as a life-sustaining service for an irrigation system. Indeed, canals and revetment works are important engineering projects, but why exactly is this the case?

A Fluid Infrastructure

The Romans knew exactly how important water was as a life-giving resource. They used aqueducts to intelligently distribute this resource to every part of their empire’s hub. We can’t really go wrong if we’re emulating this architectural mechanism, right? Seen from the air, it’s the roadways and canals of a populated region’s patch worked services that really illustrate this intricate infrastructural network. We know if the canals and revetment works are following the roads, they’re connecting township parcels together, then that societal framework is functioning properly. Happily, we can even see the cars moving on those highways and catch a glimpse of the water glistening in the canals, so all is well.

Structuring Arterial Canal Systems

Straight-running canals cut a furrow through the local landscape. The artificial waterways are specially bedded and levelled so that fluid dynamics and gravity draw the water through a series of ramparts (revetment walls) and onwards until it reaches its assigned destination. A typical application for this watery resource would be the distribution of a citywide or even countywide irrigation supply. Conversely, canals are still used as transportation conduits, although this application is more recreational than anything else. Otherwise, the narrow watercourses also supply hydroelectric power stations, river diversion projects, and several other essential infrastructural domains.

Deconstructing Revetment Works

Permissible slopes, lock mechanisms, and predetermined routes dominate canal design. Next on the civil engineers’ agenda, there’s revetment architecture to build. This is the man-made ramparts that skirt the artificial canals and waterways we cut into the land. They’re often structured as strong concrete walls, but they also adopt a more organic layout, perhaps a series of boulders and fill gravel. This aggregate covers the canal embankments so that the engineered slope is properly maintained.

Topography engineering is an intensive discipline, especially when it requires canal and revetments work. Without these land features, large tracts of land lack irrigation water, or they can’t fill a hydro-electric reservoir. When the waterways are properly bedded and levelled, though, the region is gifted with a reliable water distribution network.

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