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Simulation-based design of water harvesting schemes for irrigation

Heiler, Terence David
Fields of Research
For large areas of New Zealand that suffer from agricultural drought, the only practicable way of providing irrigation is through the use of water harvesting schemes that divert winter flood water in nearby streams into off-stream storages for irrigation use in the summer. A community water harvesting scheme is presently under construction in the Glenmark area of North Canterbury which was designed using traditional methods. The objectives of this thesis were to assess the limitations of traditional design methods for water harvesting schemes using the Glenmark Scheme as a case study and to develop an improved method based on a systems modelling approach. A daily simulation model was developed that incorporated in a realistic way the engineering, hydrologic, agronomic and economic features of importance to the design of water harvesting schemes in New Zealand. The model was used to study the adequacy of the traditional methods used for the design of the Glenmark Scheme; to arrive at alternative design solutions that achieved higher levels of engineering, agronomic and economic efficiency; and to develop a better understanding of the nature of complex water harvesting systems. It was demonstrated that compounding conservatism inherent in traditional design methods resulted in scheme overdesign and that the ability of the systems model to capture the essential dynamics of the system allowed higher levels of design performance to be achieved. The experience gained in the use of the systems model led to the development of a formalised design procedure for water harvesting schemes that represents an advance on methods hitherto available.
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