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Overview of GSI’s surveys

GSI News | February 1, 2007 | By:

It appears to this writer that any forward looking decisions—business or otherwise—should be made on the basis of factual information from the past. My son sent an E-mail to me stating: “Without data, yours is just another opinion!”

One step further in gathering this data is that the information is obtained via surveys. This brief note presents our past and ongoing surveys, all of which emphasize the use (or nonuse) of geosynthetic materials.

Liners and covers

In the landfill liner and cover area, we conducted our first survey of U.S. State Environmental Protection Agency regulations in 1993 (GRI Report #11). This was followed by two subsequent parallel surveys, one in 1998 (GRI Report #21) of U.S. states and the other in 1999 (GRI Report #23) of national regulations worldwide. This dual reporting of U.S. state regulations and worldwide country regulations is currently being updated by Jamie Koerner, with reports due in early 2007.


In the highway/transportation area, we conducted our first survey on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration in 1989. This was followed by a survey in 1992 (GRI Report #7) on state-by-state specifications on using geotextiles in separation, reinforcement, filtration, drainage, paving fabrics, and silt fences.

Our most-recent survey in 2006 (GRI Report #31) tracked the adoption and use of the AASHTO M288-05 specification among the 50 state highway departments in the United States.

Somewhat related in this general category was our survey of retaining wall costs in 1998 (GRI Report #20). The result of this survey indicated that geosynthetically reinforced retaining walls are the least costly of all retaining wall systems (gravity, crib/bin, metallic-reinforced, and geosynthetic-reinforced). This was our most widely used and referenced report, at least to our knowledge.


Regarding geosynthetic material quantity usage, we have conducted HDPE and LLDPE geomembrane surveys annually from 1998 to 2004, and geonet/geocomposite surveys annually from 1999 to 2004. These product usage surveys, however, are best obtained and conducted by the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) and their efforts in this regard are ongoing.

Coming up

Our next surveys will focus on assessing geosynthetic usage and/or regulations in large-scale agriculture and aquaculture businesses. (Note that these particular topics will be the focus of the GRI-21 Conference at GeoAmericas in Cancun, Mexico, in March of 2008.) Of course, federal, state, and regional regulations will be an integral part of these future surveys.

In closing, the GRI reports noted above are available free for members and associate members, and for a nominal charge for non-members. Please contact us for more information.

Geosynthetic Institute, 475 Kedron Ave., Folsom, PA 19033-1208 USA; +1 610 522 8440; Fax 610 522 8441; E-mail

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