Canal escapes are structures meant to release excess water from a canal, which could be main canal, branch canal, distributary, minors etc. Though usually an irrigation system suffers from deficit supply in later years of its life, situations that might suddenly lead to accumulation of excess water in a certain reach of a canal network may occur due to the following reasons:
- Wrong operation of head works in trying to regulate flow in a long channel resulting in release of excess water than the total demand in the canal system downstream
- Excessive rainfall in the command area leading to reduced demand and consequent closure of downstream gates.
- Sudden closure of control gates due to a canal bank breach.
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The excess water in a canal results in the water level rising above the full supply level which, if allowed to overtop the canal banks, may cause erosion. Hence, canal escapes help in releasing the excess water from a canal at times of emergency. Moreover, when a canal is required to be emptied for repair works, the water may be let off through the escapes.
Escapes as also built at the tail end of minors at the far ends of a canal network. These are required to maintain the required full supply level at the tail end of the canal branch.
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Weir or surface escapes
These are constructed in the form of weirs, without any gate or shutter and spills over when the water level of the canal goes above its crest level
Sluice or surplus escapes
These are gated escapes with a very low crest height.
Hence, these sluices can empty the canal much below its full supply level and at a very fast rate. In some cases, these escapes act as scouring sluices to facilitate removal of sediment.
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The locations for providing escapes are often determined on the availability of suitable drains, depressions or rivers with their bed level at or below the canal bed level, so that any surplus water may be released quickly disposed through these natural outlets.
Escapes may be necessary upstream of points where canals takeoff from a main canal branch. Escape upstream of major aqueducts is usually provided. Canal escapes may be provided at intervals of 15 to 20km for main canal and at 10 to 15km intervals for other canals. The capacity of an escape channel should be large enough to carry maximum escape discharge.
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