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Fibertex – geotextile dewatering bags for desludging wastewater ponds

Fibertex geotextile bags (geobags) for use in on-site desludging wastewater projects, have advantages over conventional methods, which are often unaffordable to authorities and contractors with limited budgets.

Benefits of using geobags for sludge removal include ease of operation, efficient retention of solids, compliance with environmental regulations and cost optimisation. A further advantage is this dewatering system is passive and does not require constant monitoring and maintenance of equipment.

The filtration properties of geotextiles – which are effective in retaining the fine-grained materials found in sewage sludge, while allowing the water to filter through – make these materials suitable in desludging wastewater ponds. The effluent that passes through the woven fabric can then be transferred to a designated safe disposal site, given that it meets the regulations set by the Department of Water Affairs (Policy and Strategy for Groundwater Quality Management in South Africa).

“When wastewater treatment ponds reach their capacity, the options available are to either build new facilities or to empty the existing ones to make additional space available for waste. Traditional methods of waste containment, which usually require large amounts of space, stringent environmental permits and frequent dredging, are normally unaffordable to municipalities,” explains Johnny Oriokot, geotechnical engineer, Fibertex SA. “A feasible solution needed to be found to dispose of extracted material through the desludging process, which is not restricted by budget constraints and the limited space available at existing wastewater facilities.

“The use of geotextile dewatering bags is recognised globally as the most efficient and economical method to achieve the required desludging process, to improve the functionality and safety of wastewater treatment works.”

Fibertex geobags, manufactured from UV-stabilised woven Polypropylene (PP) geotextile materials, are incorporated in the desludging process in wastewater treatment – the process used to convert wastewater into an effluent that can be returned to the water cycle with minimal environmental impact.

Fibertex geotextile bags (geobags) for use in on-site desludging wastewater projects, have advantages over conventional methods, which are often unaffordable to authorities and contractors with limited budgets.

Benefits of using geobags for sludge removal include ease of operation, efficient retention of solids, compliance with environmental regulations and cost optimisation. A further advantage is this dewatering system is passive and does not require constant monitoring and maintenance of equipment.

The filtration properties of geotextiles – which are effective in retaining the fine-grained materials found in sewage sludge, while allowing the water to filter through – make these materials suitable in desludging wastewater ponds. The effluent that passes through the woven fabric can then be transferred to a designated safe disposal site, given that it meets the regulations set by the Department of Water Affairs (Policy and Strategy for Groundwater Quality Management in South Africa).

fibertex-geotextile-dewatering-bags-for-desludging-wastewater-ponds

“When wastewater treatment ponds reach their capacity, the options available are to either build new facilities or to empty the existing ones to make additional space available for waste. Traditional methods of waste containment, which usually require large amounts of space, stringent environmental permits and frequent dredging, are normally unaffordable to municipalities,” explains Johnny Oriokot, geotechnical engineer, Fibertex SA. “A feasible solution needed to be found to dispose of extracted material through the desludging process, which is not restricted by budget constraints and the limited space available at existing wastewater facilities.

“The use of geotextile dewatering bags is recognised globally as the most efficient and economical method to achieve the required desludging process, to improve the functionality and safety of wastewater treatment works.”

Fibertex geobags, manufactured from UV-stabilised woven Polypropylene (PP) geotextile materials, are incorporated in the desludging process in wastewater treatment – the process used to convert wastewater into an effluent that can be returned to the water cycle with minimal environmental impact.

Selection of the final disposal site for the dewatering geotextile bags needs to be as close to the generation area as possible, in order to minimise transportation costs. In addition, Fibertex recommends the following selection procedure for the suitable area: ensure that the disposal site is not located in a sensitive area where disposal is not permissible; ensure that the sludge disposal site is located as far as possible from the area where the final effluent is discharged to limit possible contamination of the final effluent and to limit possible contribution of contaminants to the water resource.

It is important to allow for the maximum buffer zones, greater than 400 m from surface water; to consider the slope of the disposal site to minimize run-off, erosion and ponding and to ensure the disposal site is not within the 1:100 year flood line.

In these recent projects, prior to placement and filling of the geobags, Fibertex lined the dewatering area with a 1 mm thick geomembrane layer, according to SANS 1526 specifications for thermoplastic sheeting. This material prevents local erosion and collects all effluent released from the geobags, thus preventing any seepage of the wastewater into the ground. The effluent is then channelled back into the dam or taken for further treatment.

No flocculants are necessary in this process, as there is sufficient time available for the material to dewater by gravity, resulting in further cost reductions. In order to ease the removal of the waste, water is pumped into the dams to agitate the sludge. Transfer of the sludge from the tailings dam into the bags is through pumps fitted with an impeller on the inlet to reduce bigger particles as the pumping is conducted.

The Fibertex team assists customers with detailed studies to determine the volume of waste that could be extracted from tailings dams per bag.

The duration of the dewatering and consolidation period varies depending on the type of geotextile, the bag sizes, fill material and site conditions. On average it takes about a week for the bags to drain.

The solids are retained in the geobags and can then be safely disposed of or used as fertilizer. These geobags are also disposed of, as they are not reusable.

The selection of the geobag size is dependent on the volume that needs to be removed from the tailings facility and the space available on site where the geobags will be placed.

The Fibertex dewatering bag system is a cost-effective solution that simplifies the sludge removal process and subsequently increases the space available in wastewater tailings facilities for the additional waste. These geobags are an environmentally-friendly solution and are suitable for use in aquaculture, industrial lagoons, sedimentation ponds and wastewater plants.

The Fibertex geosynthetics range encompasses a complete portfolio of nonwoven and woven geotextiles, as well as gabions and mattresses, drainage pipes, fittings and erosion control and cellular confinement solutions. Fibertex also supplies soil reinforcing products, including geogrids and geocells, as well as geosynthetic clay liners, as part of composite lining systems in modern landfills.

The Fibertex group celebrates 50 years of business this year. The company’s continued focus on quality and meeting exact customer requirements, has led to the expansion and improvement of business operations. Coupled with this, global support guarantees the edge on product design, impeccable manufacturing standards, cost efficiency, safety and reliability of every material.

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