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Water, water, water

Editorial | October 1, 2014 | By:

By Ron Bygness

Eight years ago, I interviewed Ernie English. At that time, Ernie was with GSE and was the chairman of the Geosynthetic Materials Association’s Executive Council.

I asked him several questions about the state of the geosynthetics industry, about market opportunities, about some historical perspectives. Then I asked Ernie about the future for geosynthetics. He paused for several seconds, then he took a deep breath and answered as though he had just watched the 1974 neo-noir classic, “Chinatown.”

“Water, water, water,” he said slowly. “It all revolves around water. “Stormwater, wastewater, rainwater, drinking water, nonpotable water … it all revolves around water.”

In his keynote address to open the Geosynthetics 2013 conference in Long Beach, Calif., Jerry Yudelson said that the geosynthetics industry should prepare for the coming crisis in water supplies, particularly in the south and southwestern areas of the U.S., but eventually nationwide and worldwide. He challenged geosynthetics companies and their products, applications, and services to meet the needs of this crisis. Is our industry meeting these needs?

Tick off the topics that appear regularly in this magazine: erosion and sediment control, roads and bridges, storage and containment, landfills, stormwater, reservoirs and canals, reinforced slopes and walls.

Water affects every one of these applications. Is our industry effectively addressing the effects of water on these projects? Are we successful in applying geosynthetic solutions? And what are the costs?

In his 2008 article, “The case of the percolating water,” Prof. Dov Leshchinsky concluded: “The costs of failure are always larger than the costs for properly designed and constructed projects.”

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