CRC Irrigation Futures
Dam Evaporation Mitigation
Mr Erik Schmidt
Project Description:
Dam Evaporation Mitigation addresses the substantial evaporation losses of water from dams. Because of its high rainfall variability, Australia has greater storage capacity than other countries. Water stored in dams, particularly shallow on-farm dams, is subjected to high evaporative losses. In small dams this can be reduced through physical dam covers, but on large dams chemical monolayer techniques are potentially more feasible. This project will improve the reliability of evaporation mitigation technology by developing new monolayer detection and application systems and a better understanding on factors affecting monolayer performance.

  • Development of technology and systems to evaluate evaporation and seepage losses from water storages.
  • Development of improved monolayer based evaporation mitigation systems that can be applied to large scale water storages to reduce evaporation loses.

  • Develop standardised methods for evaporation and seepage monitoring of storage dams including improved depth sensing technologies and analysis procedures and use of meteorological based evaporation estimates.
  • Collation of available information of storages size classes and evaporation losses, coordination of system for accounting of storage dams and assessment of market potential for evaporation mitigation products and savings.
  • Review of current monolayer formulations and assessment of factors affecting spreading and evaporation reduction performance.
  • Develop monolayer application, monitoring and control systems and recommendations for best management practices.
  • Progress to Date:
    JUNE 2009 UPDATE
    Systems for measuring evaporation and seepage from storage dams developed by the CRC are now being commercialized through the IrrimateTM network of consultants and Aquatech consulting. The National Water Commission has funded a project with an aim to improve the water efficiency of on-farm storages in the cotton industry. This project, delivered through the CRC Cotton Catchment Communities is using CRC IF monitoring technologies to benchmark storage performance on a target of 200 storages.

    Studies to identify performance and best management practices for monolayer systems have been completed. The studies have demonstrated wide variability in product performance with evaporation savings ranging from zero to 70%. Performance is impacted by product, dosage rate, water quality and weather conditions (eg wind and temperature). In particular performance is influenced by the existence and evolution of natural microlayers which exist on most natural waters. A new product (E10) developed through an alliance between CRC Polymers, CRC CCC and CRC IF has demonstrated improved performance over current commercial products.

    A web based Economic Ready Reckoner which can be used to evaluate the performance and economics of evaporation control technologies has been developed. Four training days have been held in Victoria and NSW to provide irrigators, consultants and officials information on evaporation control technologies. A number of local case studies have been used to illustrate the use of the Ready Reckoner.

    Research into monolayer application monitoring and control system has been completed. A universal design framework for smart monolayer application is being formulated which will lead to optimum deployment of monolayer application systems. A demonstration unit is currently being finalised for deployment and evaluation. A key limitation in using monolayers is our ability to identify the presence of the product on the water surface. Various monitoring approaches have been researched and an innovative approach using precision temperature measurement is being further refined and tested.

    The CRC IF are contributing to a new project funded through the South East Queensland Urban Water Alliance which will assess the potential for measuring evaporation losses on large urban water storages and the potential for monolayer technologies to minimise such losses.

    Presentations have been made at a range of forums under the auspicious of CRC IF, CRC CCC, Queensland Farmers Federation, Cotton Trade Show, Gwydir Irrigation as well as to a range of farmer and consultant groups at field days. International links have been established with Clemson University USA; Singapore National Water Utility Board; Advanced Photon Source (APS) Chicago, USA; Science and Technology Centre for mining research, Chile. An international workshop on evaporation is being planned for December 2009 with international visitors Prof J Saylor, USA and Ass Prof Victoria Martinez Alvarez, Spain.

    The project team held a very successful planning workshop in Melbourne on November 6 2008 facilitated by NPSI and focussing on a range of integrated projects addressing monolayers and reducing evaporation losses. Three PhD students and one masters student are currently working on components of the project.

    Activities in the remaining 12 months of the project are focussing on deployment and further testing of monolayer application and sensing systems, development of training material via an online web resource, promotion of project outcomes via conferences and workshops, publishing in selected journals and support in the ongoing deployment and evaluation of seepage/evaporation monitoring systems.
    Author Title and Refereed Journal
    Craig I (2006) Comparison of precise water depth measurements on agricultural storages with open water evaporation estimates Agricultural Water Management
    Schmidt E (2007) Putting a thin lid on evaporation lossesPutting a thin lid on evaporation losses ECOSECOS
    Barnes, G.T. (2008) The potential for monolayers to reduce the evaporation of water from large storages Agricultural Water Management
    Craig, I., Aravinthan, V., Baillie, C., Beswick, A., Barnes, G., Bradbury, R., Connell, L., Coop, P., Fellows, C., Fitzmaurice, L.., Foley, J., Hancock, N., Lamb, D., Morrison, P., Misra, R., Mossad, R., Pittaway, P., Prime, E., Rees, S., Schmidt, E. (2007) Evaporation, seepage and water quality management in storage dams: a review of research methods Environmental Health
    Duncan, R. A., Bethune, M. G., Thayalakumaran, T., Christen, E. W. and McMahon, T. A (2008) Management of salt mobilisation in the irrigated landscape – A review of selected regions Journal of Hydrology
    Gillies, M. H., Smith, R. J. and Raine, S. R. (2007) Accounting for temporal inflow variation in the inverse solution for infiltration in surface irrigation Irrigation Science
    Inman-Bamber, N. G., Bonnett, G. D., Spillman, M. F., Hewitt, M. L. and Jackson, J. (2008) Increasing sucrose accumulation in sugarcane by manipulating leaf extension and photosynthesis with irrigation Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
    Schmidt, E. (2009) Reducing evaporation losses. International Water Power and Dam Construction,
    Author Title and Report
    Craig I, Schmidt E & Scobie M (2006) Evaporation Mitigation Technology (EMT) Manufacturers Liason Report NCEA
    Baillie, C. (2008) Assessment of Evaporation Losses and Evaporation Mitigation Technologies for On Farm Water Storages across Australia CRC for Irrigation Futures
    Pittaway, P. & van den Ancker, T. (2009) Microbial and environmental implications for use of monolayers to reduce evaporative loss from water storages. CRC for Irrigation Futures Technical Report No. 07/10.
    Symes, T. Hancock, N. & Schmidt, E. (2009) Estimation of Evaporation using Environmental Measurements for an Open Water Body (Final Report) National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture Publication 1002999/2, USQ Toowoomba
    Symes, T. Pittaway, P. & Schmidt, E. (2009) Evaporation, Temperature and Water Quality Impacts for AquaArmourTM Floating Pods. National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture Publication 1003113/1, USQ Toowoomba
    Author Title and Published Conference Paper or Workshop Paper
    Muir, J., Danaher, T. and Baillie, C. (0) Where is all the water? Using time-series analysis of Landsat imagery to map the extend of water bodies the workshop on Spatial Information for Water Resource Management
    Solomon, D. and Prime, E. (0) Minimizing Water Evaporation by Monolayers 12th International COMS conference on the commercialization of micro- and nano-technologies,
    Brink, G., Symes, T., Pittaway, P., Hancock, N., Pather, S. and Schmidt, E. (0) “Smart” monolayer application and management to reduce evaporation from farm dams – formulation of a universal design framework ERE Conference
    Atkins, D. & Schmidt, E. (0) Farm Dam Management. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Brink, G. Wandel, A. Hancock, N. & Pather, S. (0) Towards adaptive operational requirements for optimal application of evaporation-suppressing monolayer to reservoirs via a 'Universal Design Framework': International Workshop on Evaporation from Reservoirs Griffith University,
    Brink, G, Symes, T & Hancock, N (0) Development of a 'smart' monolayer application system for reducing evaporation on farm dams - introductory paper. The 2009 CIGR International Symposium of the Australian Society for Engineering in Agriculture ‘Agricultural Technologies in a Changing Climate’
    Brink, G. Wandel, A. Pittaway, P. Hancock, N. & Pather, S. (0) Determining operational requirements to optimise monolayer performance on a farm dam via a ‘Universal Design Framework’. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Coop, P. Lamb, D. Fellows, C. & Bradbury, R. (0) Wind-assisted surface probe (WASP) – an automated sensor for the detection of evaporation reducing monolayers. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Gill, E. Prime, E. & Solomon, D. (0) Efficacy of selected micro- and mono-layer products on evaporation. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Hancock, N. Pittaway, P. & Symes, T. (0) Towards a biophysical understanding of observed performance of evaporation suppressant films applied to agricultural water storages. The 2009 CIGR International Symposium of the Australian Society for Engineering in Agriculture ‘Agricultural Technologies in a Changing Climate’
    Hancock, N. & Symes, T. (0) EvapCalc - a modest-cost technique for real-time measurement of evaporation (and seepage) from farm dams. : International Workshop on Evaporation from Reservoirs.
    Herzig, M. & Barnes, G. (0) Using emulsions to improve the spreading rates of monolayers to reduce water evaporation. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Herzig, M. Brink, G. & Barnes, G. (0) Formulations for effective monolayer performance. International Workshop on Evaporation from Reservoirs,
    Pittaway, P. (0) Water quality performance criteria for monolayer product specifications: Selecting the right product for the job. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Pittaway, P. Herzig, M. van den Ancker, T. & Barnes, G. (0) Resilience to bacterial degradation and biosurfactant disruption as selection criteria for improved artificial monolayer compounds. International Workshop on Evaporation from Reservoirs.
    Pittaway, P. Hancock, N. Brink, G. Symes, T. & Schmidt, E. (0) Revisiting artificial monolayers as a strategy to reduce evaporation loss from large open water bodies. . Urban Water Security Research Alliance Science Forum.
    Pittaway, P. & van den Ancker, T. (0) The impact of water quality on monolayer performance in reducing evaporative loss from water storages. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Schmidt, E. (0) Reducing evaporation losses - Opportunities for cost effective water savings. Irrigation Australia Conference ‘Irrigation Today: Meeting the Challenge’.
    Schmidt, E. (0) Collaborative research towards reducing evaporation losses from water storages. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Symes, T. & Brink , G. (0) A scalable distribution system for the optimal application of evaporation-suppressant film to farm dams. Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Symes, T. Hancock, N. & Schmidt, E. (0) Reliable, modest-cost seepage and evaporation measurement for farm dams using ‘EvapCalc’ Australian Irrigation Conference 2010: One Water Many Futures,
    Media Releases:
    - MEDIA RELEASE: Technology to boost water productivity as farm modernisation begins
    - Boost for farm dams
    - Spray-on liquid reduces water loss
    - Spray-on protection reduces water loss
    Prof Steven Raine
    Prof Rod Smith
    Dr Rabi Misra
    Mr Erik Schmidt
    Ass Prof Nigel Hancock
    Mr Ian Craig
    Mr Peter Smith
    Mr Alan Beswick
    Mr Joseph Foley
    Mr Craig Baillie
    Ass Prof David Lamb
    Dr Chris Fellows
    Ass Prof Armando Apan
    Mr Harnam Gill
    Mr Bill Williamson
    Postgraduate Students:
    - Presentations to the National Water Commission
    - Annual Research Forum 2008 - Presentations
    - Annual Research Forum 2008 - Poster Session
    - Dam Evaporation Calculator - an economic ready reckoner

    Reinventing Irrigation Catchments - The System Harmonisation Story


    CRC Irrigation FuturesCRC Australia

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