EPI - The Liner Company | Coachella Canal Geomembrane Installation
A 9-foot deep canal built 49 years ago now leaks up to 115,000 acre-feet per year due to building on loose and sandy desert soil. (115,000 acre-feet is enough fresh water for up to 150,000 households!) The canal desperately needed relining, but the challenge was to complete the project without draining the water. So how did we do it?
The answer was to develop equipment that effectively trims and grades the canal and then lines it first with polyvinyl chloride membrane (PVC), geotextile, and a concrete cover—in one mutli-step process and all while tons of water flow through the canal.
A prototype project for lining 1.5 miles of the Coachella Canal in southern California started in 1988. The goal of the project is to create and develop new technology and techniques that can be utilized to line all areas of leaking in both the Coachella and All-American Canals. This project indicates the first ever use of PVC (or any geomembrane) for underwater lining of an operating canal.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation awarded the Kiewit Pacific Company of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., the contract to develop equipment to line the canal. Kiewit subcontracted with EPI to supply the custom-fabricated PVC liner and to advise and train contractor personnel in the first installation and bonding of PVC of its kind.
Two large machines were designed and constructed—a dredge and a paver—so the canal operation could be conducted in just two steps. The dredge prepared the canal while the paver placed the geomembrane (bonded with geotextile) and immediately covered it with 3 inches of specially formulated concrete. To install the geomembrane liner underwater, a unique tracking system was designed that allowed the liner to be rolled out flat against the sides and bottom of the canal. EPI developed the proprietary fabrication process to accommodate this tracking system.
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