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Innovative gabion check dam counteracts erosion on the Vamanapuram River, Kerala


MacLine GCL is used in India for the first time as an impermeable layer in a check dam in Kerala

The Suryakanthi pump house services Peringamala Panchayath in the Trivandrum District of Kerala. A solution was needed to increase the water level in the pump house during drought periods. The Kerala Irrigation Department needed an innovative, eco-friendly and cost effective solution to construct a check dam across the Vamanapuram River. Maccaferri designed and provided a gabion wall solution where, for the first time, our MacLine GCL (geosynthetic clay liner) was used as an impermeable layer to control the seepage.

The Suryakanthi pump house is on the bank of the Vamanapuram River, near the town of Chettachal. The water pumped from this source is used for drinking and irrigation at Peringamala Panchayath, in the Trivandrum District. In the summer, the water level and base flow are confined to the central portion of the river, thereby considerably reducing the capacity in the infiltration gallery. This results in the intermittent functioning of the pump house, which in turn adversely affects the water supply that the village of Peringamala Panchayat depends upon.

To address this problem, the Kerala Irrigation Department decided to construct a check dam across the Vamanapuram River, downstream of the infiltration gallery. The main purposes were:

  • To increase the water level upstream of the check dam and thereby improve the recharging capacity in the infiltration gallery, ensuring the minimum level required for operating the pump house;
  • To recharge the ground water table and recoup the water level in the nearby wells adjacent to the structure, to solve the problem of water shortage during dry seasons;
  • To trap sand upstream of the structure and thereby restore the geomorphology of the river to the original river bed profile.

The client specifically asked for an innovative, eco-friendly and cost effective solution. Working closely with Sam David Contractors, Kerala, Maccaferri proposed to replace the traditional existing concrete structure with a gabion wall combined with a Geosynthetic Clay Liner to be placed across the central portion of the gabion structure.

The gabion wall added flexibility to the structure, while the MacLine GCL NL20 geocomposite functioned as an impermeable membrane preventing water percolation through the check dam. The GCL was sandwiched between the gabion walls to control the seepage.

After completion of the check dam, all the requirements were met. The local soil moisture profile and ground water recharge improved considerably. The water shed structure improved the water level in the nearby wells adjacent to the structure and the level in the infiltration gallery rose to meet the needs of Peringamala Panchayath during the severe drought period of 2016.

This is one of the first projects where MacLine GCL has been used as the impermeable layer replacing other conventional measures.

For further information, download our case history.

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