With such a wide range of uses and potential benefits, it’s not surprising that floating covers are installed on ponds and tanks in dozens of different industries. Yet each industry has a unique set of specific requirements from covers, necessitating a custom solution for each application. Consider the needs of the project when deciding if a cover is the right choice for the job or not. If a cover is a good option, a floating cover made from a geomembrane is most likely the best material regardless of the industry or type of water being enclosed.
Clean Drinking Water Reservoirs
Clean, drinking water used to be stored primarily in either limited sized, steel or concrete cisterns or in open air ponds. Unfortunately, affordable open-air storage options aren’t safe for potable drinking water supplies. Once water is treated and ready to consume, it requires covered storage to keep bacteria, debris, and wastewater from mixing in. In addition to preventing contamination and preserving water quality, the three main purposes of reservoir covers are:
- Maintaining the proper concentration of sanitizing chemicals like chlorine to ensure safety, which reduces ongoing supply costs
- Preventing algae growth, which is sometimes dangerous for human consumption and generally a hassle that clogs pumps and filters
- Controlling evaporation so that valuable drinking water isn’t lost when it’s needed the most.
Wastewater Storage Ponds
On the opposite end of the spectrum, many wastewater ponds also need permanent or temporary floating covers. Some systems for sewage management require covers for certain stages of treatment or to handle the sludge that can’t be treated on site. Odor is a major issue with wastewater, whether it’s sewage, mining runoff, or industrial waste. Vapor impermeability is a major requirement for floating covers in these industries. Other important benefits from wastewater storage pond covers include:
- Keeping algae from overtaking the growth in the treatment ponds and interfering with planned processing methods
- Securing the sewage or waste from access so that animals and humans can’t be hurt from trying to explore the pond or tank
- Insulating the waste so it stays above a certain temperature, usually around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, to maintain a steady rate of processing and treatment in cooler climates
- Preventing the addition of unplanned rainwater and surface runoff that could overflow the pond or dilute the concentration of treatment chemicals.
Frac pits are used for supplying fresh water for hydraulic fracturing, storing the wastewater and runoff generated during the process, or for transforming runoff into usable fresh water. Most large-scale fracking projects include all three types of ponds in the same project. Floating covers are essential for all types of frac pits. For the freshwater supply ponds that hold millions of gallons at a time, covers prevent evaporation to reduce pumping or transportation costs to make up for losses to the air. Frac pits filled with runoff tend to attract water birds that can be hurt by the acidic and chemical-rich mixture. Covers prevent this from happening. Finally, floating covers are usually recommended for ponds designed to hold reclaimed water so it doesn’t become either diluted or concentrated until it can be reused. Floating liners prevent both the loss of water to evaporation and the addition of water from rainfall.
Above Ground Storage Tanks
Some tanks are built as single-piece vessels, but construction methods limit the finished sizes of these products. Separately constructed covers are much more common since they can be added on site after the rest of the tank is built in place or transported. Floating covers can work well with tanks of all kinds, including fiberglass, cement, and steel designs. These covers are often attached to the sides of the tank with rollers or a tensioning system rather than relying on floats like in-ground ponds. Regardless of the attachment method, covers for above-ground tanks are exposed to higher wind speeds and increased temperature fluctuations when compared to the same materials installed on ponds or basins.
Industrial wastewater ponds and tanks definitely benefit from floating covers. The control of noxious or toxic gases is a major requirement for covers in this industry. Without impermeability, to manage off-gassing, covers can’t properly protect the surrounding environment from waste exposure. Since some industrial runoff products are radioactive, abrasive, corrosive, or even flammable, covering the storage tanks and ponds is required in many states. Flooding and runoff are particularly damaging from these industrial waste products, making fixed or floating covers the only method reliable enough for preventing water loss.
Livestock farms in particular generate millions of gallons of mixed wastewater per year thanks to the production of manure from cows, chickens, sheep, and more. Even some large-scale crop farms require wastewater storage ponds to handle their fertilizer-rich runoff from the fields. Manure lagoons are covered whenever possible to keep the methane generated by the breakdown of the waste from escaping into the environment. Covers for manure lagoons are chosen for their odor control functions as well, especially for farms built near residential areas. Finally, floating covers keep the wastewater from becoming a health hazard if a person or animal wanders into the facility. Since manure lagoons can produce large amounts of gas during a warm day, the flexibility and stretch resistance of a reinforced material like RPE is the best choice. You can find these cover materials here at BTL Liners for agricultural uses and more.
Even if you’re not in any of these industries, there are many other projects that benefit from a floating pond cover. Regardless of the type of liquid you’re storing in a pond or tank, there’s a floating cover available in the right size and material to match.