Geomembrane waterproofing for a 10-mile wooden flume

October 18, 2016

In 2015, a private hydroelectric company in Washington state was looking to install a geosynthetic liner as part of a 10-mi (16-km) elevated wood and metal structure for conveying water— a flume. The project was located near Mount Rainier ) about 50 miles (80-km) southeast of Seattle in southwestern Washington’s Pierce County. The owner operates a private hydroelectric facility that was originally built in the early 1900s. The facility includes an intake structure, the woodconstructed flume, a sediment basin and storage pond, steel penstocks, and a powerhouse. The process requires conveying water that is diverted from the Puyallup River at an intake diversion into the meandering wooden flume structure downstream to the hydroelectric generating plant.

The flume is supported by approximately 6,200 bents, of which about 1,200 aremade from wood. The Puyallup River is fed from glacial melting, which can contain high sediment loads and flow capacity during the summer months. In many areas of the flume, the wooden floors and walls were badly decayed and leaking significant quantities of water. The inside dimension of the wood flume structure is approximately 2.4m (8ft) wide × 2.6m (8.5ft) high. The hydroelectric plant has an operating capacity of 26 megawatts (MW). However, as a result of the structural decay of the flume, there was significant water leakage resulting in the plant operating only at 8MW.

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