Silt curtains (also called turbidity curtains or turbidity barriers) are vertical barriers positioned within the water to contain fine particles of silt that are discharged into the water from dredging, construction or reclamation activities.
Ecobarrier designs, manufactures and delivers silt curtains throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We fabricate on average 25km of silt curtains every year. They all work and do an effective job, preventing the transport of sediment out of sites and into the surrounding environment.
That does not mean, however, that all silt curtains will work and do the job that you want them to do. Cheap “off-the-shelf” and “home-made” silt curtains will, without doubt, always fail.
When choosing the most appropriate silt curtain, there are many considerations to take into account. A multitude of factors influence model selection and design, going from tidal forces and wave height, to water depth, location, type of construction works, type of sediment, including environmental regulations and sensitivity, to mention just a few of the details that are included in the assessment process. In short, each project is unique, and so should be the curtain, tailored to suit specific conditions and project requirements. There is simply no one fit-for-all when it comes to silt curtains.
The main problems associated with silt curtains appear to occur from an inappropriate design, selection and installation of the curtain, leading to all types of failures. An example is pictured above. The silt curtain fails for a number of reasons:
- The curtain is poorly constructed, causing the skirt to be torn off from majority of the curtain and silt screen float to snap in half;
- The tide or wave forces are too strong for the type of curtain (and material used to fabricate the curtain);
- The curtain is poorly installed, resulting in damage to the curtain and the environment;
- The curtain is left unmaintained.
Silt curtains that are not properly constructed, sited 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.
Cheap silt curtains will do more harm than good. Not only impacting the environment negatively as sediment is not contained properly, but maintenance will also have to be done more often, resulting in additional costs, i.e. silt curtain replacement costs, and continuous repair and cleaning costs. All in all, using high quality, durable silt curtains will turn out to be cheaper in the long run.
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