Lower Drum Canal Outage - Shotcrete Lining

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Lower Drum Canal Outage - Shotcrete Lining

Syblon Reid performed canal relining work at various locations on the Lower Drum Canal System during outages in 2011 and 2012. The sites were spread out across nearly 20 miles from Auburn to Colfax, California.

The 2011 outage work included removing and replacing approximately 1,200 feet of shotcrete lining along the Bear River Canal and constructing two transition tie-ins, totaling approximately 600 feet, at the Krause II Flume. The canal lining and transitions included cast-in-place concrete bottom slabs. The work was completed in six weeks, working 12 hours per day, 7 days a week, with a total contract value of $2.1 million (approximately $50,000/day).

The 2012 outage work included removing and replacing the existing canal liner at nine different sites; six along the Bear River Canal and three along the Wise Canal. One site on the Bear River Canal included a berm-side hybrid concrete L-wall. As with the 2011 outage, the 2012 work was completed in six weeks, working 12 hours per day, 7 days a week, with a total contract value of $5.6 million (approximately $133,000/day).

The scope of the outage work included:

  • Pressure washing the existing canal bank and berm with 3,000 psi pressure washers,
  • Saw cutting, demolition, and removal of the bottom slab and selective bank side coping,
  • Installing bank side weeps, on the haunch and other areas of the canal, with waterstop, checkmate valves, and clean, angular crushed rock wrapped in filter fabric,
  • Striping the bank of approximately 6” of vegetation and topsoil, preparing, placing, and compacting fills in selective locations to promote bank side drainage of run-off into the canal and eliminate existing low spots that trap water behind the bank side canal coping,
  • Digging the bank keyway,
  • Grading and preparing the canal bottom, as required, prior to placing rebar and concrete,
  • Drilling and epoxying #3 dowels into the existing bottom slab and bank/berm lining and installating expansion joints and base seal waterstops at upstream and downstream tie-in locations,
  • Placing reinforcing steel and shotcrete lining on the bank, bottom, and berm (where feasible, cast-in-place concrete bottom slabs were poured and finished), and
  • Constructing vertical and transition walls by placing shotcrete against one-sided forms.


Both projects involved difficult access. The canal itself was used a travel way whenever possible; however, width restrictions and distances from access points required that some sites be worked using helicopter support. Shotcrete was pumped up to a distance of 2,000 linear feet. There was no allowance for inclement weather, and the work sequence was very linear, requiring a high degree of resource planning to bring the various stages of construction to completion without delays to the critical path.

These projects are unique in that a substantial amount of work needed to be accomplished in a short period of time. As such, the projects were extremely labor intensive, requiring a dedicated contractor and crews willing to work seven days a week, putting in as many hours as necessary, to complete the projects within the established outage periods.

Both projects were completed within the planned outage periods without a single lost-time accident.

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