Submission Process

Technical Guidelines

Create a more competitive submission.


For purposes of this competition, you may assume the following field conditions:

  • “Watering up” of the canal from dry to an operational level would occur at a maximum rate of water surface elevation increase of 2 feet per hour, with no option to “water down.”
  • The walls of the canal prism may be compacted earth, concrete, riprap (large rock blocks), or smooth geotextile.
  • The canal prism can be assumed to be a trapezoid with slopes ranging from 3:1 to 1:1 (Horizontal: Vertical) in steepness, heights ranging from 10 to 50 vertical feet, and base horizontal widths ranging from 10 to 200 feet.
  • The canal can be assumed to be between 100 and 1,000 linear feet long with no bends.

Note these conditions are for the field-scale (full-scale) application of the solution. The conditions will be scaled appropriately for the Phase II (laboratory-scale) part of the competition.

In to be competitive, your submission should describe how your solution will meet these technical guidelines:

  • Prevent a person who is in the act of entering or rescue a person already in the flow of a canal.
  • Will not impede regular flow or result in a decrease in operational efficiency.
  • Will be viable for a variety of canal geometries and materials.
  • As a general guideline, initial procuring and installation cost shall be less than an assumed cost of procuring and installing up to 1000 feet of fencing at $60/ft ($60,000).
  • Will be implementable as part of standard operations and maintenance activities (installation and maintenance by water/irrigation district personnel).
  • Will have installation and maintenance that do not impact or present an unreasonable risk to typical canal operations.
  • Will be a solution other than fencing, messaging, or signage (solutions that solely use fencing, ladders, buoys, signage, etc. will not be considered).
  • Will not have adverse impacts on local environmental conditions (e.g., flora, fauna, protected species).
  • Although not mandatory, an optimal solution would achieve the following:
  • ~Reduce the number of animals (livestock, deer, elk, dogs, etc.) from entering the canal and possibly drowning,
  • ~Result in improved safety to personnel performing rescue operations for humans or animals that have entered the canal,
  • ~Minimally affect the existing aesthetics of the canal.


Phase II Demonstration Testing will be performed indoors at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Hydraulics Laboratory in Lakewood, Colorado under controlled hydraulic and environmental conditions. The 1:4 Froude scale physical hydraulic model will be a straight smooth concrete channel approximately 80 ft long. The trapezoidal channel will be constructed with a 4-ft bottom width, 3-ft side widths, and 1:1 side slopes (representing field dimensions of 16-ft bottom width, 12-ft side widths, and 1:1 side slopes).

Up to three flow conditions will be run in the model to test the devices. The velocity range will be 0.75 to 2.0 ft/s (representing field velocities of 1.5 to 4.0 ft/s) with a model water depth maintained at approximately 1 ft depth. The exact design of the test facility will be forthcoming based on Phase 1 solutions.

Model-scale objects (e.g. 3-D printed objects) representing the body size and density of a typical child and adult will be released at the upstream end of the model and the device must demonstrate the ability to remove the “victims” from moving water. It is assumed that the victim will not be able to participate in the rescue (passive) or will have substantially limited ability to participate in the rescue (active).

Primary evaluation criteria include effectiveness, reliability, and timeliness. Secondary evaluation criteria include impacts to canals operations or canal access, durability, ease of installation, materials, cost, and aesthetics and environmental impact.

Are you ready to help prevent drownings in canals throughout the U.S.?

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