Common Irrigation Flume Problems

Many flume problems are unique to a particular type of flume, but when you use a flume for an irrigation channel, there are problems that can arise regardless of the design you’ve implemented. To ensure you’re getting accurate measurements, make sure you’ve accounted for all the potential errors. Learn about the most common irrigation flume problems and what to look out for.

Not Level

In order for irrigation flumes to function properly, they need to be level. Flumes will settle after installation, and that settling doesn’t always happen evenly along its entire length. That’s why you should check the level about six months after installation and then each year after that. Remember, when you’re checking the level, measure at the flume floor if possible because that’s where it actually matters the most.

Water Missing the Flume

As flumes age, the walls and the floor can erode. When this happens, there may be spaces beside and below the flume where the flow could go instead. When this happens, you won’t be getting accurate measurements since the flow is missing the flume. Additionally, a submerged flume won’t provide useful measurements, as the water is simply traveling all around it rather than straight through.

Poor Upstream Conditions

Flow traveling into the flume has to meet certain conditions in order for measurements to be accurate. If an irrigation flume is dealing with a flow that’s off-centered or nowhere near the appropriate velocity profile, you’re not going to get useful measurements. The upstream conditions could cause seepage, which will throw off the measurements as well.

Geometry Changes

When a flume’s geometry changes, it requires an entirely new set of calculations to accurately measure flow rate, and those calculations are extremely difficult to determine. It’s best to just keep the flume free of any build-ups that would change its geometry. While all sorts of sediment could be present within the flume, one of the most common issues is algal growth. Fortunately, removing that growth isn’t all that difficult.

Incorrect Measurement Location

There are some instances in which a flume installation was perfectly carried out and the downstream and upstream conditions are satisfactory, yet there is still an error. This occurs when one takes measurements at the wrong location. In order for the measurement to be accurate, it must be taken back from the throat at about two-thirds the length of the converging wall. Measurements taken in the throat or at the entrance won’t be accurate.


Over time, a flume can change its shape. This may happen due to frost buildup or other changes in the surrounding environment. That’s why it’s so important to brace the sidewalls upon installation. You can check this distortion at the same time you’re measuring how level the flume is, to make sure no walls are bowing out of order.

Find Flume Solutions With Tracom

Whether you’re dealing with common irrigation flume problems or are looking for a new flume entirely, Tracom is happy to help. Our experts can work within any configuration and setting to ensure your flume is installed and offering you the accurate measurements you need. Contact us today to learn more about everything we can offer!

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