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Fabricated geomembranes for golf course ponds

Case Studies | June 1, 2011 | By:

This is the first in a series of occasional articles from the Fabricated Geomembrane Institute (FGI). The topic for this first installment is fabricated geomembranes for golf course ponds.

Golf course ponds have a couple features in common. In most cases, a golf course pond will contain water for course irrigation. The containment of freshwater for irrigation use is not hazardous and a small amount of seepage may be acceptable (depending on soil conditions and water costs).

A second common characteristic is that these ponds are often included in the course layout as a water hazard. Water hazards on a golf course need to fit into the overall design and this means that the ponds are usually backfilled and landscaped to blend in with the natural environment.

Backfilling can also help to protect the liner. Backfilled liners for landscaped decorative ponds are another key use for lightweight fabricated geomembranes.

Lightweight fabricated geomembranes include a number of interesting materials. For more than 20 years, polyethylene-coated woven tape products and string-reinforced laminated products from 8- to 24-mils thick have been used for irrigation ponds and canal liners.

These materials can be made into prefabricated panels more than 5,600m2 (60,000ft2) each, which often allows lining of ponds with one panel. The results include good, consistent seams because the seams were created in a factory setting.

Single panel liners mean fewer people are workng on the liner in the field, which reduces the potential for leaks. These one-piece liners are usually installed by the golf course owner or an earthwork contractor.

If field seams are required, these seams can be made with easy-to-use tapes or thermal welding. In larger ponds, materials such as 20-mil PVC and 20-mil flexible polypropylene (fPP) are more common.

The fabricated panels of these materials are typically thermally welded in the field by a local liner installer. In highly decorative features, such as ponds with waterfalls, streams, and fountains, landscape contractors have the option to glue EPDM or PVC liners into irregular shapes to their design advantage.

Of course, any geomembrane can be used for a golf course pond depending on local requirements. Fabricated geomembranes provide an inexpensive and effective option for these ponds, while allowing course designers the freedom to shape ponds to their decorative and course requirements.

Andrew Mills is Research and Development Manager, Layfield Group, in Edmonton, A.B., Canada. He is the current FGI president.

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