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Use of Geosynthetics for Waterproofing Critical Hydraulic Structures

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Instructor Information: Robert M. Koerner, Ph.D., P.E.,D.GE, NAE Dist.M.ASCE

Course Length: 1.5 Hours

This webinar was co-sponsored by ASCE's Geo-Institute and ASCE Continuing Education  

Purpose and Background

There exists a serious lack of freshwater in many parts of the world and the situation appears to be approaching a disaster. It is estimated that two billion people will have inadequate safe drinking water by the year 2040. Yet geosynthetics, mainly geomembranes, hold the key toward the capture, transportation, retention, and distribution of freshwater when used as waterproofing materials for dams, canals, reservoirs, tunnels, and pipelines. Each of these applications are reviewed in this webinar from both a historical and modern perspective. The latter being the use of geomembranes as waterproofing, or barrier, materials.

Unlike typical transportation, geotechnical, and geoenvironmental application areas where the geosynthetic is always covered, the above mentioned hydraulic applications often have direct exposure of the geomembrane to ultraviolet light, high ambient temperatures, and air from the surrounding environment. As such, durability and lifetime prediction of exposed geomembrane is critically important for acceptance by regulators, owners, and designers in these applications. This webinar presents the results of six years of laboratory incubation studies on a variety of geomembranes, including lifetime predictions. While the projected lifetimes are indeed lower than the same materials when covered, they are impressive and can readily serve their intended function. Conclusions and recommendations for the above listed applications are also offered.

Learning Outcomes

You will become familiar with the many hydraulic structures which have been waterproofed using geomembranes. These include dams (earth, masonry, and roller compacted concrete), canals (earth, rock, and concrete subgrades), reservoirs (both liners and floating covers), tunnels and pipelines. Since the geomembranes being used are completely or partially exposed, their lifetime prediction is critical. Results of six years of laboratory weathering studies will be presented. Here it will be seen that geomembranes, when properly formulated, are projected to have service lifetimes of 30 to 50 years even in hot climates.

Webinar Benefits

  • Become familiar with the many hydraulic structures that have been waterproofed with geomembranes; e.g., data on 250 major dams
  • Understand the adaptability of geomembrane waterproofing for many intricate shapes and contours of canals and reservoirs
  • Learn about the attachment of geomembranes to existing concrete and masonry surfaces
  • Understand various types of trenchless pipe remediation and rehabilitation applications
  • Learn about methods and results of exposed geomembrane lifetime predictions and get an update on the latest results presented

Intended Audience

Federal, state and regional hydraulic, transportation, environmental and geotechnical engineers and related personnel; engineers from municipal districts and townships; private and municipal land developers, consulting engineers and testing laboratories servicing these organizations; manufacturers and representatives of geosynthetic materials; contractors and installers of geosynthetic materials; academic and research groups; and others desiring technically related information on this important aspect of hydraulic engineering systems will benefit from this webinar.

Webinar Outline

  • The current, and growing, freshwater crisis
  • Waterproofing of new and existing dams
  • Waterproofing of new and existing canal linings
  • Geomembrane reservoir and pond linings
  • Floating covers for reservoirs and ponds
  • Tunnel and pipeline waterproofing
  • Exposed geomembrane lifetime prediction
  • Conclusions and recommendations