Regardless of the type of ditch you’re working with, you’ll enjoy the same important benefits from adding a liner. Since all ditches start out as simple channels cut into raw soil, they’re all prone to a shared set of basic problems that liners can solve. By understanding the various benefits explained below, it is clear that a liner is an essential to reduce repairs, maintenance and future expenses.
Open vs Closed Ditches
Drainage systems, in particular, tend to combine both open and closed ditches. Closed ditches are technically culverts and underground sewers; not what most people think of as ditches at all. In contrast, open channels sit at the surface and feature no cover or culvert to surround it. Closed ditches are much more expensive to build and harder to maintain. Open ditches can hold just as much volume and resist erosion as well as any closed design with the right liner over the soil. It’s usually necessary to transition to closed culverts and drains when the ditch crosses under a roadway or runs near homes and businesses, but open ditches are preferred for the rest of the system.
Erosion Control and Silt Collection
Lined ditches enjoy protection against erosion; the main form of damage that shortens the lifespan of these water channels. Through the constant eroding force of water flow, ditches without liners are constantly losing soil and potentially clogging when it settles in bends and low points. A flexible liner from BTL Liners will protect your ditches from soil loss for years to come by creating a physical barrier between the soil and water. However, liners also help control the eventual effects of erosion by increasing flow and speed of water traveling down the channel. The rapid flow washes away any silt and sediment that settles on the bottom from runoff over surrounding soil. This reduces issues with clogs and overflows caused by erosion and silt collection, resulting in ditches that keep themselves clean between maintenance visits.
Easy Clean Up and Debris Removal
When it’s time for manual cleaning and debris removal, lined ditches make the process much easier. Trying to remove sludge and silt from a bare soil ditch is often a futile exercise since it’s difficult to tell where the sludge ends and the soil begins. It’s easy to tell you’ve gotten all the debris out of a channel when you have a clear barrier you’ll reach as you clean. With the rough soil covered by a smooth layer of RPE material, the ditch is likely to shed debris and silt rather than retaining it. You’ll find your crew spending less time on maintenance with each mile of ditch lining you add to your project.
Increased Volume of Channel
Each ditch has a specific maximum volume depending on its depth, width, and general shape. The use, or lack of an impermeable barrier between the water and soil, also determines total volume. A lined ditch can hold more water because it’s less susceptible to bank scouring, erosion, and overtopping. High speed flow won’t risk damage to the lined ditch, while it’s almost guaranteed to damage the bare ditch with erosion in some way. If there might be a need to increase the use of the ditch in the future, make sure it’s lined from the beginning.
Reduced Soil and Wastewater Contamination
Impermeable barriers are required for most ditch installations used for transporting wastewater and storm runoff. Chemicals and other contaminants mix in with these liquids, risking environmental damage if the water escapes. Seepage occurs in ditches without liners because the bare soil rapidly absorbs some of the water traveling over the exposed surface. Even concrete lining tends to allow water to seep into the surrounding soil and water through the tiny pores in the material. Impermeable, flexible RPE liners, made with multiple layers of material, are the best choice for preventing this kind of contamination. Since even irrigation and drainage ditches can pose environmental risks, it’s best to use this material to line ditches of all kinds.
Maintaining a Steady Flow
Another reason to reduce water loss and control seepage is to ensure the desired amount of water arrives at the end of a ditch. Irrigation ditches that are designed to deliver water to distant fields, can lose 30% or more of the total volume when there’s no liner. Installing an impermeable barrier can increase irrigation efficiency significantly, helping crops survive during droughts and other difficult periods. Lining existing irrigation ditches can make the most of a system that can’t be expanded any other way.
With so many benefits from the same flexible liner material, it’s a wonder any ditches used today go without lining. Bare soil is simply an accident waiting to happen due to the constant risks of erosion and water loss. By adding a liner from BTL Liners, you’ll know you can trust your ditches to perform regardless of purpose or design.