Dams are man-made structures that form barriers in river courses to store their waters in dedicated areas. They have three main functions: protection against flooding, energy production and storage of water (or other resources, like mine tailings). In order to guarantee their functionality, such critical infrastructures must keep a certain level of watertightness, and geomembranes play a key part on that.
In concrete dams, the watertightness is provided by the concrete itself. However, with time the concrete loses its watertightness due to the appearance of cracks, leaching and other pathologies; so it may require treatment of the upstream face. This can also be the case in masonry dams. Since decades, the installation of a robust PVC geomembrane in the upstream face has been an easy, quick and economical solution to recover the watertightness of concrete dams.
Embankment dams block the seepage of water incorporating a watertight core -normally compacted clay- and/or an upstream watertight face, usually made of reinforced concrete. Both systems imply using vast quantities of resources and may pose risks when large settlements or seismic actions are envisaged. Geomembranes can also perform this function in a more flexible and reliable way, with better quality control of materials and with a much more efficient use of resources: thanks to its flexibility and robustness, a PVC geomembrane only some millimeters thick can substitute a reinforced concrete face or a compacted clay core, saving millions of cubic meters of materials and therefore enhancing the sustainability of the overall project.
Dams are critical structures and only the best products and producers are allowed to enter this field. RENOLIT has a large experience waterproofing new and existing dams and can support asset owners, designers and contractors to specify the right product for each project.