Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Blake P. Tullis


Blake P. Tullis


Gilberto E. Urroz


Joseph A. Caliendo


The majority of dams contain low-level outlet works, which typically consist of closed conduits that run through the dam, and are used to release water from the reservoir when the water level is below the level of the surface spillways. It is also used to flush the reservoir of sediments and to control the elevation of the reservoir. Low-level outlet works typically consist of a gate that controls the flow within a closed conduit that runs through the dam and an air vent that supplies air behind the gate. In the absence of properly designed air vents, negative pressures may develop downstream of the gate. These negative pressures could potentially lead to cavitation and vibration damage. Properly sized air vents help maintain the downstream air pressure at or near atmospheric pressure and/or provide air to absorb the energy generated by cavitation, reducing the potential for damage. The majority of research done on air vent sizing is for dams having large dam geometry, which consist of a pressurized conduit leading to a vertical slide gate that is followed by a discharge tunnel. The typical air vent design for these large dams uses the water flow rate and the Froude number measured at the vena contracta downstream of the gate. The low-level outlet works for small-to-medium-sized embankment dam geometries typically have an inclined slide gate, installed at the inlet on the upstream face of the dam slope, followed by an elbow that connects to a conduit that passes through the dam and discharges downstream. This type of outlet geometry does not produce the typical vena contracta. Consequently, the use of the Froude number, at the vena contracta , as a characteristic parameter for characterizing airflow demand is not practical. Recently a laboratory study was performed calculating the head-discharge characteristics of low-level outlets for small-to-medium sized dam geometries. In addition to validating some of the previous laboratory-scale air venting research, the objective of this study was field verification of air-demand/air vent sizing predicted by the laboratory-based method. The influence of conduit slope, air port location, and hydraulic jumps on air demand was also evaluated in the laboratory. The findings of this study can be found within this thesis.