Flume Solutions: Real Estate Developments

flumes for real estate development

Real estate expansion can be exciting no matter what the details of your specific piece of land are. Whether you are a rancher developing land or are simply looking to expand an already existing development, you’ll need to keep your water flow channels under control and properly measured. Finding the right kind of flume can be tricky, however, as the sheer variety of options available presents many different paths to follow.

While every flume design excels under some circumstances, real estate development is most predominantly served by the trapezoidal flume. Growing developments tend to cater to the trapezoidal design, so it’s important to keep that in mind as you’re moving forward. Even so, the trapezoidal flume isn’t always the best option, so you’ll need to learn when it will work and when it won’t. Learn all about flume solutions for real estate development, and discover how the iconic trapezoidal flume or its varying styles could be exactly what you need for accurate flow rate measurements on your growing property.

Irrigation Flumes

For the most part, irrigation flumes are either used for water rights or for furrows. Several kinds of flumes can be used for each application, but whenever you’re dealing with earthen channels, the trapezoidal flume tends to be the best fit. This is largely due to the trapezoidal flume’s shape, as it naturally correlates with the shape of an earthen channel.

Because irrigation flumes are commonly exposed to the elements, they need to be able to last long and pass solids easily. Irrigation flumes tend to have a bit of sediment in them anyway, but the trapezoidal flume excels at passing debris seamlessly. As long as the expected debris isn’t wider than the trapezoidal flume’s most narrow point, it should be able to pass through without issue. Even if a piece of debris is larger, the flow building up behind the blockage will often dislodge it, allowing it to pass through a larger opening closer to the top of the flume.

When it comes to farmland irrigation, trapezoidal flumes are especially useful thanks to their narrow shape. In particular, smaller trapezoidal flumes can easily be added to expanded farmland between crop rows to ensure that they get the irrigation they need while also offering a path for sediments to escape the area. RBC flumes can also be used for this application, in addition to small Parshall and cutthroat flumes. Even so, trapezoidal flumes are, by far, the most common.

The Trapezoidal Flume

Given the usability of trapezoidal flumes in real estate applications, it’s important to understand exactly what they have to offer with their design. They date back to the 1960s when they were first developed for applications in canals, and the shape was designed to be reminiscent of a canal. In the beginning, all trapezoidal flumes were short-throated and calibrated in a laboratory. While short-throated trapezoidal flumes are still the norm, long-throated trapezoidal flumes are available too. The long-throated variants, however, are typically reserved for unique applications and are designed specifically for the particular site they’re going to be installed in.

While trapezoidal flumes can be crafted using a variety of different materials, they tend to function best when built using fiberglass. Not only is fiberglass durable, but the construction process allows for dimensional accuracy and specificity on a level that other materials simply cannot match. Despite this, construction is still relatively easy and doesn’t typically cost as much as you might think. It’s also particularly helpful if your real estate development has unique conditions that warrant a custom-designed trapezoidal flume. Because fiberglass flumes are crafted in a singular piece from a mold, custom designs are easier to produce.

Flow range is one of the most important considerations when finding the right flume, and trapezoidal flumes leave plenty of room for variation. Low flow rates can be measured accurately using trapezoidal flumes, but they also handle surge flows quite well. The change in head can be substantial, but you can still expect the same +/- 3%-5% accuracy in its readings over its rated range from the smallest to the largest appropriate flow.

Submergence can be a major problem for flumes, especially if they’re exposed to the elements on a farmhold, but trapezoidal flumes hold up against this problem quite well. The submergence transition ratio for a trapezoidal flume is 80%. Note that this figure is applicable regardless of the actual size of the flume. With this kind of resistance, trapezoidal flumes excel when you’re trying to expand your land into areas that could see a lot more flow coming through.

Senate Bill 88 Compliance

SB 88 was signed into law in California in 2015. This measure requires all water rights holders to report their use of water and any diversions annually to the State Water Board. The best way to ensure that reporting is accurate is to use a reliable flume. After all, that’s how the Rocky Mountain states with similar requirements have been handling things for a while now.

Several different flumes can be used for legal compliance, including the Parshall flume, which was developed for this type of purpose back in the 1920s. In fact, Parshalls are particularly useful for reporting because they can offer accurate measurements even in some submerged conditions, though taking the actual measurement then does have extra steps.

Put simply, having a reliable flume that’s correctly installed is the best way to make sure that your real estate expansion is compliant with legal regulations. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to check the specific legal requirements in your area, as a lot of states are different when it comes to minute details.

Measuring Sewer Flows

Expanding your land may not involve irrigation channels at all, instead requiring you to integrate into sewer flows. Fortunately, flumes can handle these kinds of flows as well, even if you have to implement them into already existing manholes. If you’re starting from scratch, it will, of course, be easier to install a new manhole with a flume inside as a starting point, but you may have to retrofit a flume into an already existing manhole. While that may sound like a daunting task, the available solutions are actually more straightforward than you might think.

Parshall flumes tend to work quite well as an integrated part of a manhole despite being initially designed for water rights and irrigation. Still, the Palmer-Bowlus flume is often your best bet, as it was designed for piped flows from the beginning. Just note that the Palmer-Bowlus requires a long straight run on the upstream approach that’s typically 25 pipe diameters long. Fortunately, most piped flows offer these conditions quite easily.

One of the most important factors to remember is that trapezoidal flumes aren’t used as much as other flume styles in manhole integration. They tend to get too wide at the top to fit properly in a manhole’s dimensions, though you still can use a smaller one if it’s appropriate for the kind of flow you’re working with. Additionally, you’ll find several different accessories available that can be applied to trapezoidal flumes to make them more appropriate for piped flows.

Trapezoidal Flumes in Piped Flows

When making a trapezoidal flume work in piped flows, you’ll likely need to take advantage of end adapters and pipe stubs. These accessories connect to the inlet or outlet of your trapezoidal flume and attach the flume as a whole to the pipe system. They come in quite a few different varieties for integration into multiple kinds of systems. Some of the available varieties include adapters molded into the flume itself, flanged adapters, and even oversized adapters that double as caulking collars for the connection.

When integrating a trapezoidal flume into a manhole that leads to a piped flow, you may want to make use of a staged end adapter. This curved adapter removes the need to connect to the pipe stub directly. Instead, the adapter is bolted directly into the wall of the manhole itself. Just remember that the inlet and outlet pipe elevation needs to be the same when you’re working with a trapezoidal flume in the piped system.

Retroactively fitting a trapezoidal flume into a manhole isn’t always possible even with all the available accessories. If your land expansion still warrants that flow rate measurement, though, you can simply get a newly crafted manhole with a trapezoidal flume already fitted inside. Using fiberglass construction, the resulting unit is a singular piece that’s watertight and resistant to damage and corrosion. Plus, being a single unit makes it much easier to install. The extra cost of an entirely new manhole with an already integrated flume must be weighed against the installation costs of retrofitting a flume in an existing manhole if you want to understand all the benefits available.

The Benefits of Nested Flumes

When you’re expanding your real estate, you may run into situations in which your flows aren’t always as steady as they were before. Fortunately, you can optimize your existing systems to handle the flow ranges without having to get rid of your old flumes in a lot of cases. Instead of starting over entirely, you could simply turn your existing flume into a nested flume. Opting for a nested flume in a brand-new installation can be beneficial as well.

A nested flume is essentially two flumes built into one. With this kind of setup, a wide range of flows can be accurately measured, with the smaller flume measuring lower flow rates and the larger flume measuring the higher flow rates. This is especially useful when it comes to seasonal flows, such as what you’d deal with in crop processing and snowmelt runoff. Nested flumes are useful for low-to-high flows like plant expansions and high-to-low flows like water conservation.

The kind of flow range you can expect determines the best kind of nested flume to opt for. With low-to-high flows, you’ll typically want a temporary nested flume that’s factory installed to be removed at a later date. High-to-low flows, on the other hand, can be field installed with a permanent addition to an already existing flume system. Finally, seasonal flows require nested flumes that are removable and reinstallable depending on the time of year.

One of the most important factors to remember with nested flumes is that the two flumes put together don’t necessarily have to be of the same type. While the outer flume is typically a Parshall or Montana flume, the inner flume has a lot more variety with trapezoidal and HS / H flumes being viable candidates. Essentially, any flume style that has a flat-bottomed design is going to generally work well as an inner nested flume as long as it’s appropriate for the kind of flow you’re expecting.

Expand Your Land With Tracom

When you’re expanding your real estate and need to keep your flow rate measurement efforts under control during the process, there’s no better source for all your device needs than Tracom. We offer a wide variety of flumes that can apply to a wide range of situations, but that’s only the beginning. Our design team is also happy to work with you to design a custom flume that will fit your unique channel conditions. By utilizing fiberglass construction techniques, achieving the dimensional accuracy your efforts call for is easy.

As an FRP Manufacturer, you can count on us to be the experts when it comes to fiberglass flumes. This isn’t a side project for us. Flumes are our passion, and that means you’ll have experts by your side every step of the way. With our regional partners across the United States, you’ll never have to look far to find the service you deserve. We’ve been designing and producing fiberglass products for nearly 30 years, and wastewater management is our specialty among everything we have to offer. Contact us today to get started.