Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Brian D Barkdoll


The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is responsible for managing over 2500 miles of waterways and hundreds of water control structures. Many of these control structures are experiencing erosion, known as scour, of the sediment downstream of the structure. Laboratory experiments were conducted in order to investigate the effectiveness of two-dimensional air diffusers and plate extensions (without air injection) on a 1/30 scale model of one of SFWMD gated spillway structures, the S65E gated spillway. A literature review examining the results of similar studies was conducted. The experimental design for this research was based off of previous work done on the same model. Scour of the riverbed downstream of gated spillway structures has the potential to cause serious damage, as it can expose the foundation of the structure, which can lead to collapse. This type of scour has been studied previously, but it continues to pose a risk to water control structures and needs to be studied further.

The hydraulic scour channel used to conduct experiments contains a head tank, flow straighteners, gated spillway, stilling basin, scour chamber, sediment trap, and tailwater tank. Experiments were performed with two types of air diffusers. The first was a hollow, acrylic, triangular end sill with air injection holes on the upstream face, allowing for air injection upstream. The second diffuser was a hollow, acrylic rectangle that extended from the triangular end sill with air injection holes in the top face, allowing for vertical air injection, perpendicular to flow. Detailed flow and bed measurements were taken for six trials for each diffuser ranging from no air injection to 5 rows of 70 holes of 0.04" diameter. It was found that with both diffusers, the maximum amount of air injection reduced scour the most. Detailed velocity measurements were taken for each case and turbulence statistics were analyzed to determine why air injection reduces scour. It was determined that air injection reduces streamwise velocity and turbulence.

Another set of experiments was performed using an acrylic extension plate with no air injection to minimize energy costs. Ten different plate lengths were tested. It was found that the location of deepest scour moved further downstream with each plate length. The 32-cm plate is recommended here. Detailed velocity measurements were taken after the cases with the 32-cm plate and no plate had reached equilibrium. This was done to better understand the flow patterns in order to determine what causes the scour reduction with the extension plates. The extension plate reduces the volume of scour, but more importantly translates the deepest point of scour downstream from the structure, lessening the risk of damage.