The ability to selectively adjust levels and flow rates in fluid control systems is a fundamental aspect of dredged material and fluid management, and necessary to numerous farm and industrial processes. Historically, fluid management structures such as gates and weirs offer limited options for controlling levels and volume. Installation is generally permanent, with modifications being difficult and expensive. Critical flow rate adjustments can be severely limited, and maintaining antiquated systems requires hazardous maneuvers dependent on extensive manpower.
Weir stacks and water control gates are permanent structures used to maintain desired water levels, and to control the stage, discharge, distribution, delivery, or direction of water flow. A weir stack is a barrier that operates like a small adjustable dam, pooling water behind the stack while also maintaining a maximum water level by allowing it to flow steadily over the top of the stack. Common uses of weir stacks include altering the discharge flow of rivers to prevent downstream flooding, regulating fluid discharge, and rendering rivers navigable.
Typically, weir stacks consist of a stack of “stop logs” fabricated out of timber or aluminum and held into place with vertical channels. One problem is that buoyant stop logs can float, compromising the stack. Additionally, water level control is typically achieved by removing logs from or adding logs to the stack. Adjusting the weir stack places personnel at risk in situations where the flow of water is powerful.
Water control gates are used as an alternative to weir stacks. A control gate is a single, solid structure held into place with vertical channels, or hinged and employing water pressure to seat the gate. Water is drained from a reservoir by lifting a mechanically actuated gate. Constructing a water control gate is an expensive undertaking, because the structure requires a substantial foundation and complex engineering. Once installed, it is difficult to modify the structure as environmental conditions change. Another problem is that water released from the reservoir bottom may contain undesired sediment or be under unacceptably high pressure.
Traditional water control structures offer limited options for adjusting and controlling the flow of water, are difficult to modify, and are not capable of achieving incremental release or multiple flow paths. The Composite C-Channel is an incrementally adjustable fluid control system that allows for multiple uses as a sluice, weir, or suspended orifice. The innovation allows the operator to adjust fluid height and flow by incrementally raising or lowering the stacked beams with orifices. C-Channel is externally operated using a simple actuation tool to move stacking members up and down as guided by vertical channels. All four sides are adjustable to achieve desired flow rate and fluid level. C-Channel's negative buoyancy, watertight beams, and supporting structure are entirely fabricated out of durable composites and plastics.
C-Channel provides significant improvements over traditional gate/weir designs in terms of safety, design life, materials costs, and ease of installation, operation, and removal. Composite riser boards are lighter than wood, heavier than water, and dimensionally stable, non-absorbent, and inert. The easily operated functionality eliminates the need for special access, such as the use of floating docks, to manipulate a common weir stack of timber beams that can be overly buoyant or waterlogged and heavy. The system can be disassembled comparatively easily for relocation, and there are no permanent openings in the C-Channel system to permit unregulated flow.