Published on 27 Jan ‘23
Some important reminders when selecting the right silt curtains

Also known as sediment barriers or turbidity curtains, silt curtains are an incredibly important but often under-valued part of any marine construction project. They’re designed to do one thing: stop silt and sediment from flowing into an area where it’s not wanted.

So whether you’re a consultant tasked with choosing the right silt curtains for a construction project, or an engineer trying to ensure sediment is contained at your work site, we hope these tips will help you avoid the costly headache of selecting the wrong silt curtains. Here, we’ll touch on some of the important things you need to know to choose the right silt curtains for your needs and what happens when you don’t pick the right ones.

Not all silt curtains are created equally

Silt curtains, also known as turbidity barriers, are designed to contain sediment and prevent it from spreading into the surrounding environment. They are commonly used in construction, dredging, and other activities that can generate sediment.

It is important to note that they are not all created equal and their effectiveness can depend on a variety of factors including the quality of the materials used, the design and installation of the curtain, and the specific conditions of the environment where it is being used.

Off-the-shelf silt curtains may not be made with the same level of quality or attention to detail as professionally manufactured and fit-for-purpose curtains, and as a result may not perform as well and may fail to effectively contain sediment. It is important to use high-quality, customised silt curtains that are fit for the environmental conditions, your operational requirements and maintenance capabilities, to ensure that they are effective in preventing the transport of sediment out of a site.

Asking the right questions when selecting silt curtains

  1. Product function and application: First, it’s important to know what the purpose is for installing. What is the problem that you’re facing and what according to you is the solution? What are your expected results after installing silt curtains? What are the environmental conditions at site which will have to be taken into consideration when we custom build the curtains?
  2. Know your supplier: When looking to purchase products or materials, it’s important to thoroughly research the supplier before deciding. This includes asking questions such as: Who are you buying from? How long have they been in the industry and what is their engineering capability? Check their website – does it show actual product photos and case studies? Check their experience list and ask for references. Be cautious of large discrepancies in pricing – this can often indicate a mismatch between the materials being supplied and the material specification.
  3. Understand the product specification: What purpose does each material component serve? What specification is the most critical for your needs? Are you receiving the exact product you ordered?
  4. Installation methodology: Are there any limitations when it comes to installing the silt curtains? What are the environmental conditions where the silt curtain will be installed? What equipment is available on site for installation and anchor handling? Incorrect installation can result in failure and the shutdown of a project site.
  5. Maintenance plan: Maintenance is an overlooked but very important factor that affects the effectiveness of silt curtains. Does the client have the resources and equipment on site to handle a failure?
  6. Budget: What is the project budget? What’s the cost of prioritizing certain features over others? And more importantly, what is the cost if the installed silt curtains are not fit for purpose and fails?

Having more clarity on these factors helps you choose a more suitable product that fits perfectly with your needs. Failing to choose the right silt curtains can result in increased project costs, environmental damage, and the need for periodic replacement.

What happens when you don’t pick the right silt curtains?

When the wrong silt curtains are chosen, there can be several negative consequences. One of the main issues is that the curtains may not effectively perform their intended function, leading to environmental damage and increased project costs. Low-grade silt curtains may need to be replaced more frequently, resulting in higher lifetime costs. Additionally, if the curtains are not designed with environmental factors in mind, they may deteriorate quickly and require frequent maintenance. This can lead to unplanned downtime, disruption of the project, and further costs. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right silt curtains that are suitable for the specific conditions and application, to avoid these issues and ensure the project’s success.

Case study

We recently worked with a client to replace the silt curtains they had previously installed from another provider which were severely damaged in a very short period. The curtains were made of substituted materials and downgraded components indicating a lack of understanding in the purpose of material components, engineering principles, and overall silt curtain design. Furthermore, significant gaps between the panels greatly contributed to the curtain’s rapid deterioration. Silt curtains that are not properly constructed, anchored and installed, will not withstand bad weather and other challenges to last through the job. Even perfectly constructed and installed silt curtains need to be inspected on a regular basis.

Upon receiving the request from the hotel chain, we immediately took action. Our first step was to conduct a detailed on-site examination of the damaged curtains to identify the reasons for their failure. Next, we evaluated the surrounding environment where the new curtains would be installed. This helped us to understand the constraints, potential issues, and any other necessary information needed to design and fabricate customized silt curtains that are durable and require minimal maintenance for the client in the long run.

After gathering all relevant information, we consulted with our engineering team and performed force calculations to determine the most suitable type of silt curtain for the specific environment and how to tailor it to meet and exceed the client’s expectations while also being sensitive to the surrounding ecosystem.

Our team successfully installed the new silt curtains which are now operating as designed. The hotel chain is extremely satisfied with the high-quality, high-performance curtains which are now finally fit for purpose.

Looking for the right silt curtains for your project, visit ecocoast.com/contact-us today!


Our ESC datasheets can be downloaded on the product page: Ecobarrier Silt Curtains.

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