Hydraulics - Civil Engineering

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A Brief about
  Hydraulic engineering is the branch of civil engineering which deals with flow, flow pattern, conveyance, storage, control of fluid. It involves the use of the principles of fluid mechanics to understand the fluid properties and utilize these principles in practical use.
It finds its application in sediment transportation, control of floods, designing of canals, controlling meandering of rivers, making stable channels, designing of bridges, dams, culverts etc.
Hydraulics also finds its application in generating power, fluid machinery etc. Our water supply system and sanitary system are also the direct application of hydraulics. In water supply system, water travels a very long distance before it reaches to the consumer thus flow patterns needs to be analyzed and the losses are required to be calculated so as to maintain the required discharge at the consumer end.
In sewer pipelines, the hydraulic engineer should design the sewer such that self-cleansing velocity should be maintained so that solid particles don’t stick in the pipeline and the sewer line doesn’t get choked.
Hydraulic engineer also needs to control the flow of water. For example- in case of distribution reservoir the engineer needs to estimate the water requirement of the community and the timing of peak demand and low demand so as to control the flow of water from the intake structure to the distribution reservoir and then to the distribution system so that water is available to the people at all the times of the day. A hydraulic engineer needs to take in to account all the seasonal, daily, hourly variation in flow only then any water supply project will be successful. For pressure pipes, the engineer needs to calculate the pressure in the pipeline by using a suitable factor of safety so that the pipes won’t burst.
Similarly, for the sewerage network system, the hydraulic engineer needs to ensure that the pipe shouldn’t choke. Practical situations involve cleaning of pipelines for which the flow needs to be controlled so hydraulic engineer must know the hourly variation of flow so that pipelines can be cleaned at the right time without causing any inconvenience to the consumers.
Combined or storm water sewerage network schemes should be appropriately designed. For this, the hydraulic engineer must need to study the hydrological aspects of the area and the design should also consider the precipitation data. The variations in rainfall over the year and trend analysis need to be considered so that the sewer doesn’t overflow. Overflowing sewers result in breeding of mosquitoes, diseases, plague, inconvenience to people, accidents etc. Thus a hydraulic engineer has a responsibility of providing sanitation to people and maintaining it so that well-being of people doesn’t get affected.
Design of dams, spillways, weirs, etc. requires an extensive analysis of hydrological data so that these hydraulic structures don’t fail. Failure of such structures will be catastrophic because failure can result in the destruction of whole city. A hydraulic engineer needs to study the mechanics of sediment transportation, effect of water pounding, hydrological data, effect on marine life etc. These structures are subjected to enormous amount of water pressure and this water pressure change with the changing water level. A hydraulic engineer needs to check the storage levels so that the dams etc. won’t topple.
Oil vessels whether thin or thick pressure vessels should be designed by considering the dynamic effect of acceleration when the oil is being transported in vessels. The acceleration or deceleration of vehicle may result in the change in the pressure levels thus a hydraulic engineer must study these effects and incorporate the results in the design.
Similarly, in the case of elevated water tanks, a large mass of water is supported by a slender staging. In the event of an earthquake, the water pressure will change and the tank will behave differently. A detailed study of this hydrodynamic pressure needs to be done for a safe structure.
Hydraulic engineering finds application in lifting heavy loads where by applying very less force we can lift very heavy loads. This uses the Pascal’s law. In mega hydraulic structures, this principle is used to lift heavy loads and transport to the required place.
Every year we face the wrath of water in the form of floods, thus our hydraulic structures should be such that we can control even the worst floods. Hydraulic engineering is a tool which enables us to do so. We can mitigate the risk of a flood by proper control and release of water from the hydraulic structures. But one must keep in mind that the release should not cause floods in the downstream area.
A hydraulic engineer also needs to use the resources in the judicious way by being efficient in determining the requirements. For example- for the water requirements of crops, one must need to determine the water requirement for each season and for each crop so as to deliver the right discharge to the farmers. Though water is abundant in nature but the potable water is limited. Thus the best of our knowledge is required to use this resource judiciously.
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