Banner - Marina Maintenance Series - 1. Preparing Seawalls for Extreme Weather

Marina Maintenance Series – 1. Preparing Seawalls for Extreme Weather

Body - Marina Maintenance Series - 1. Preparing Seawalls for Extreme WeatherExtreme weather events like hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rainfall present significant challenges to marina owners and operators. The seawall, a critical component designed to protect against water erosion and flooding, can be severely compromised if not adequately fortified for extreme conditions. Strengthening marina seawalls to increase their chances of withstanding extreme weather events is essential for ensuring both property safety and customer satisfaction.

Understanding the Risks

Types of Extreme Weather Events

Different weather phenomena pose unique challenges to marina seawalls:

  1. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms: These bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges, exerting immense pressure on seawalls.
  2. Heavy Rainfall and Flooding: Excessive rain can lead to rapid water level rises, adding hydrostatic pressure on the seawall.

Potential Damages

Failure to prepare can result in:

  1. Structural Damage: Cracks, breaks, or even the collapse of the seawall.
  2. Erosion: Loss of land behind the seawall due to water intrusion.
  3. Financial Loss: Costly repairs and potential loss of business due to operational downtime.

Preparatory Measures

Structural Assessment

Before extreme weather arrives, a comprehensive structural assessment is crucial. This involves:

  1. Visual Inspection: Check for visible signs of wear, tear, or damage.
  2. Expert Assessment: Employ marine engineers or qualified contractors to evaluate the seawall’s structural integrity.

Structural Reinforcement

Stabilizing the wall and managing hydrostatic pressure are crucial, especially during extreme weather events. A marine contractor may perform some or all of the following steps, based on the assessment:

  1. Installation of Hydrostatic Pressure Release Systems: Utilize proprietary pressure release technology to regulate the release of hydrostatic pressure that may form behind the wall.
  2. Soil Solidification with Polymers: Inject structural polymers behind the wall on the landward side to transform unstable soil into a permanent, lightweight solid mass, providing a supportive medium for the creation of de-watering channels.
  3. Installation of a Seawall Anchoring System: Implement an advanced anchoring system to further stabilize the seawall. These systems secure the wall to more stable soil layers or bedrock on the landward side, providing additional resistance against the forces exerted by extreme weather events.

Drainage Systems

Proper drainage systems should be in place to manage excess water:

  1. Weep Holes: Ensure that weep holes are clear and functional to relieve hydrostatic pressure.
  2. Drainage Channels: Install or maintain drainage channels to direct water away from critical areas.

Emergency Response Plan

Develop and communicate an emergency response plan to all staff members, including:

  1. Evacuation Procedures: Steps to safely evacuate the marina if necessary.
  2. Emergency Contacts: A list of contacts for local authorities and emergency services.

Best Practices

Regular Maintenance

Routine maintenance checks should be conducted to ensure that all preparatory measures remain effective. This includes regular inspections of hydrostatic pressure release systems and drainage channels.

Staff Training

Staff should be trained in emergency response procedures and how to operate and monitor hydrostatic pressure release systems effectively.

Customer Communication

Keep customers informed about the steps being taken to strengthen the seawall, as this can enhance trust and satisfaction.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Preparing a marina seawall for extreme weather events is not just a safety measure but also a business imperative. The structural integrity of the seawall directly impacts the marina’s ability to protect assets and continue operations. By understanding the risks, and taking preparatory measures like structural assessments, material upgrades, and advanced hydrostatic pressure management, marina owners and operators can significantly mitigate the impact of extreme weather events. This proactive approach not only safeguards the marina but also instills confidence among customers, enhancing the marina’s reputation and long-term success.

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