BackgroundThe Wilds is North America’s largest conservation facility with over 10,000 dedicated acres. Their mission is to advance conservation through education, science and personal experience. Almost a decade of assessing, planning and fundraising led to the 44-acre wetland restoration project. The project rose to critical status in 2007 when the main beaver dam was abandoned, causing the lowlands to drain. The wetlands received monetary support from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Surface Water Improvement Fund and the U.S. Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to permanently restore the water level of the lowlands, replant thousands of native wetlands species and build a trail system.
Project ScopeCardno JFNew was contracted to design and build a structure that would lead to the restoration of the wetlands. Early designs outlined a weir constructed of concrete. Wilds staff was concerned that the industrial look of concrete would create an eyesore compared to the lush landscape. Contractor bids for the concrete weir came in way above budget, leading the Wilds to request a new design using vinyl sheet pile. The resulting vinyl design and bids were half the cost of the original concrete bid. More importantly for the Wilds was the fact that ShoreGuard sheet piling is a sustainable, eco-friendly building material made predominately from post-industrial recycled materials. The Wilds were able to complete the restoration using environmentally conscious materials, setting the standard for other local conservation projects.
PerformanceShortly after installation, The Wilds experienced a large rain event receiving 18” over the normal precipitation levels for the month. The 44-acre lake sent 200 acre feet of water rushing over the newly established weir. There was vocal concern that vinyl sheet piling would be able to endure the tremendous water pressure. However, the Wilds project manager commented on the vinyl weir’s spectacular performance during the 100 year rain event stating “it made believers out of non-believers.” Video of the weir was sent to surrounding counties spurring visits from conservation staff from across the state. Other conservation areas commented on the surprisingly natural look of the weir and are planning their own vinyl installations. The Wilds has installed ten other small vinyl sheet piling projects using the left over material from the original project.
ConstructionDesign plans specified ShoreGuard 525 and the corresponding AW 1075 cap. The two-man construction crew had never driven vinyl sheet piling before but had prior experience driving steel. They brought a mini-excavator to the site to decrease the disruption to the natural environment. Fourteen foot long sheets of ShoreGuard 525 were and driven through the hard clay soil. This box profile is two feet wide, minimizing the number of driving episodes and seepage. This profile incorporates CMI’s patented I-Beam Lock technology, which increases stiffness and driving ease. The AW 1075 cap was installed to provide additional strength and rigidity. The project manager is particularly impressed with how easy it is to transport and set the light-weight ShoreGuard sheets. Projects since the completion of the weir have needed only a two man crew and minimal equipment.
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