Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Blake P. Tullis


Blake P. Tullis


Steven L. Barfuss


Paul J. Barr


Most dams have a low-level outlet that consists of a closed conduit through the dam with a slide gate or valve to regulate flow. These outlets are used mainly for irrigational purposes but also for flushing the reservoir and controlling the reservoir elevation. When discharging through the low-level outlet works, negative pressures can develop on the downstream side of the gate creating a potential for cavitation damage and vibration. To minimize these effects, air vents (vented to the atmosphere) are installed on the downstream side of the gate to limit downstream pressure to something above vapor pressure (i.e., near atmospheric pressure).

Previous air venting studies have been mostly limited to large dam outlet geometries, which typically feature a vertical gate in a flat-bottomed discharge tunnel. The large-dam air demand analysis has been based on the Froude number of the supercritical flow at the vena contract (located between the gate and the hydraulic jump) and the water flow rate. Small to medium-sized embankment dams typically utilize a slide gate installed on the sloped upstream face for flow control, followed by a vertical elbow connected to a sloping pipe. With this outlet geometry, there is no 1-D vena contracta flow, no classical hydraulic jump, and no representative Froude number. Additionally, no head-discharge characteristic data have been found for inclined slide gates (vented or non-vented) for small to medium-sized dams. Consequently, unless a flow measurement structure is installed in the discharge channel downstream of the dam, determining the water discharge rate based on gate opening and head on the gate, and consequently the air demand is problematic. This study focuses on quantifying air demand and air vent sizing for the small to medium-sized embankment dam low-level outlet geometries by providing:

1. Cd values as a function of gate openings and air demand; to better estimate flow rates from outlet works of similar geometries.
2. Flow conditions for varying operating conditions.
3. A new relationship for sizing air vents as a function of driving head and gate opening.
4. The magnitude of negative pressures for non-vented conduits.
5. A foundation for future studies and development of air demand research. This thesis presents the findings of this study.




Publication made available electronically January 24, 2012.