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eNews September 2019

WRRI Funds NMSU Faculty Blair Stringam’s Investigation of Technology to Optimize Water Delivery and Reduce Water Waste

By Holly Brause, NM WRRI Research Scientist

Dr. Blair Stringam of NMSU’s Plant and Environmental Science Department was awarded a Faculty Water Research Grant for the 2019 -2020 project period. His project is titled, Developing a Practical and Robust Feedback Control System for Open Water Channels to Deliver the Correct Amount of Water to the Intended User at the Desired Time.

Water is a limited resource, so finding ways to reduce water waste is an urgent challenge. Stringam aims to do just that by developing a better system to deliver water through open channel conveyance systems.

Open channel water systems face a number of challenges that can result in delays in water deliveries and water loss. Some of these challenges include variability in supply and demand of water, sediment accumulation, vegetation growth in channels, and inconsistencies in channel dimensions.

Many open channel water delivery systems already have some automation equipment in place in order ensure timely deliveries. Stringam will further optimize these systems by developing software that uses a feedback control computer algorithm to reduce water loss. The goal is to have a fully automated feedback control system that will efficiently operate open channel water conveyance systems.

Once the software is developed, Stringam will implement the open channel control routine here in Las Cruces on multiple reaches in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District. Field data will then be used to evaluate the performance of the software. Once perfected, this system could be used by diverse water user groups across the U.S. to operate their open channel delivery systems with minimal water loss.