Demand-based irrigation systems are operated according to crop water requirements. As crop water requirements remain variable throughout the growing season, the discharges in the canal also vary to meet demands. The irrigation system under study is a demand-based semi-automatic irrigation system, where flows in the main canal are automatically controlled and secondary canals manually operated. The main canal headworks have been equipped with the SCADA system with proportional integral (PI) discharge controllers and the canal itself has been provided with self-regulating AVIS/AVIO downstream control gates for flow regulation in the canal. The secondary canals have manually operated sliding gates, which are opened or closed as per crop water requirements of the command area following a crop-based irrigations operation (CBIO) schedule under which they remain closed for one week after one or several weeks open, depending upon water needs. The flow in the main canal is then automatically adjusted according to the number of open or closed secondary offtakes. These operations result in fluctuating flows in the main canal and if not properly planned can cause serious implications for canal safety and its hydrodynamic performance. The PI discharge controllers regulate discharge releases to the canal in order to satisfy demands. The proper selection of PI coefficients ensures system safety and efficient water delivery. The operation of the secondary canals also plays a key role in defining the performance of the automatic operations. The planned opening and closure of a cluster of offtakes ensures safety of the self-regulating structures and stability of the flows in the main canal. In this paper various options have been tested using hydrodynamic modelling and we found some optimal values of PI coefficients and defined some rules for secondary canal operations to enhance the operational performance and sustainability of downstream-controlled irrigation canals.