Safe and resilient coasts with geosynthetics
The Netherlands has a name to uphold when it comes to protecting people and cities from raging waters. The knowledge and experience of Dutch companies such as TenCate Geosynthetics can form the basis for solutions in coastal areas and cities elsewhere in the world. This was the thrust of a two-day conference on water management in New York.
The second edition of the H2O9 Water Forum took place on September 9th and 10th in New York City’s Battery Park. Super Storm Sandy is still fresh in the minds of many in the East Coast of the United States, and climate change is increasing the threat to coastal cities posed by storms and water. Under the theme ‘Water Challenges for Coastal Cities − From the Dutch Delta to New York Harbor’, this American-Dutch conference focused on the question of how coastal cities could be protected against hurricanes and floods. To discuss these challenges, the conference attracted a large number of concerned and interested parties – including representatives from the Dutch companies TenCate, Arcadis and Fugro.
Internationally the knowledge and experience of the Netherlands regarding water management are held in high esteem, and in New York they served as a guide and inspiration for possible solutions.
In the opening session Melanie Schultz van Haegen (Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment) argued for a structural international approach to the problem of water management. ‘It is our moral duty to utilize our knowledge to help other countries,’ said the minister. ‘Water unites us. The same challenge confronts us on both sides of the ocean: to equip our coastal areas in the face of an uncertain future. If the business world, scientific community and government authorities work together, we will be able to engineer innovative solutions.’
In the meantime the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The counterpart of Minister Schultz van Haegen is Secretary Shaun Donovan (picture). He indicated that ‘Act now’ had become the attitude in the post-Sandy world. According to him, the Climate Action Plan of President Obama (June 2013) and a Dutch-US Memorandum of Understanding to call a halt to climate change underline the fact that the US sees the need to incorporate resiliency into coastal systems.
TenCate Geotube® technology at Plumb Beach (Brooklyn)
Over the past few months strategy teams of American and Dutch experts have been tackling the question of how to protect downtown New York, Jamaica Bay and the coast of New Jersey and make them resilient. A number of teams came up with possible solutions. The basic principle was that the solutions should be feasible and cost-effective – after all, budgets are limited. TenCate Geotube® technology meets these criteria. Materials and systems based, for example, on TenCate Geotube® offer protection against flooding in numerous coastal areas. They form a dune core or are part of coastal defence works and groynes. The technology is also suitable for the storage and dewatering of polluted sludge.
‘In the wake of Super Storm Sandy less than a year ago TenCate Geotube® technology performed beyond expectations in the stricken States of New York and New Jersey,’ says Mark Gunzenhauser (vice-president sales Americas). ‘We knew we needed to have a focused dedicated effort to make sure that communities, in the process of rebuilding their beaches and planning future storm mitigation efforts, were aware of our cost-effective, long-term solution.’
Projects in New York and New Jersey area
To that end a special team was formed, composed of Tara Glover and Dan Trope (Government Relations TenCate USA), the Livingston Group, Ed Trainer (sales and marketing manager North-East), Pete Kaye (agent and former marketing manager of TenCate) and Vicki Ginter, who had overseen most of the successful projects in the New York and New Jersey area. Each week they were in contact via conference calls to review assigned action plans and seek out new strategies to advance acceptance of the Geotube® Marine and Hydraulic solution.
‘We are confident that the seeds we plant today among an expanded audience, that can and will influence the decisions made for these regions, will yield dividends tomorrow in the form of projects utilizing our technology.’
Plumb Beach (Brooklyn)
TenCate Geosynthetics USA has already benefitted from a few projects as a result of these efforts. One recently completed project concerned the application of TenCate Geotube® technology as a dune core along part of the coast of Long Island (New York). The dunes protect a waste water treatment plant. The Department of Environmental Conservation of New York (NYDEC) sanctioned the construction. The NYDEC has also approved the specifications for using geotextile technology for over 300 meters of shoreline protection along the coast of Staten Island (NY). This work will begin in the course of 2014. The construction using TenCate Geotube® of a 60m-long groyne at Plumb Beach (Brooklyn) has now been completed. This project was interrupted on 29 October last year by Sandy.
TenCate Geotube® technology at Long Island (New York)
Geotextile materials from TenCate were applied decades ago in building the Oosterschelde Delta Works. Not only does TenCate Geotube® technology offer protection against floods, it helps to create islands, for example in Bahrain and Dubai, and is applied for land reclamation purposes, as in Brisbane Port in Australia. Tubes serving as dune cores are found in the United States, for example in Atlantic City and Sea Isle City (New Jersey), Grand Isle (Louisiana), Wallops Island (Virginia), Santa Rosa Beach and Upham Beach (Florida), Santa Maria (California), Bald Head Island (North Carolina) and Bolivar Peninsula (Texas), and in Mexico at Sanchez Magallanes (Tabasco). Groynes based on TenCate Geotube® technology are found in such places as Cannes (France), Stella Maris Marina (Ecuador), El Dorado Royal, Bahia Principe Tulum, Progresso and Cancun (Mexico), Bengkulu (Indonesia) and Kerteh (Malaysia).