Baseball and softball fields need regular turf protection and water management to be in their best shape. That’s why mound covers and infield protectors are often used for moisture management and even turf protection during practice. Some teams even use custom covers that meet their specific requirements. Storm water recapture systems further help to protect the field. These requirements extend to every athletic field, and generally including golf courses.
Storm Water Management
Providing adequate storm water drainage and runoff is one of the biggest priorities in sports field management. Allowing excess water on the field and its substructure makes it difficult to play on. The goal is to drain any unnecessary water as quickly as possible before damage is done. A storm water management system installed under the field can help with this goal.
Storm and irrigation water management helps make a sports field environmentally friendly, an essential management task to preserve and enhance both the natural and built environments. Water that is not managed can carry a lot of destructive force, and standing water is not generally good for anything outside of a reservoir. Storm water can carry a lot of pollution long distances.
As a result, storm water recapture systems have become very popular for the results they produce. To create an effective system, layers of turf, sand and geosynthetic materials such as geotextiles and geomembranes are combined. Integrated with these layers are pipes that recycle and partially treat the storm water. By combining these elements into a wisely engineered system, not only is the storm water captured, it is also treated and stored for future uses such as irrigation.
To create these storm water recycling systems, the geomembrane and geotextile both play a key role. The fairly impermeable geomembrane prevents water seepage deeper into the ground, and directs excess water to the desired destination.
Likewise, a permeable needle-punch, non-woven geotextile provides effective erosion control as well as a layer of water treatment. The design of the geotextile allows it to filter out soil, chemicals and debris from the water moving through.
Sports fields can generally be regarded as a public good. They are used for many types of social and community activities beyond the sports for which they may have been envisioned. Nowadays, this kind of versatility is designed in. Since not only rugged athletes but regular citizens in formal clothing may well be using the field – for a fund-raiser, a celebration, a political or other event, the surface must be optimal. Sports players need this also of course, for their own peak performance. Storm water runoff, carrying debris and pollution, degrades both the environment and the social good. Having adequate storm water management is a key obligation of every field.
Proper maintenance does not have to be expensive or time consuming. The simple effectiveness of geomembranes as field liners – and covers – working to direct water off the soil, helps prevent the surface from becoming soft and muddy and difficult or impossible to use. Liners also aid in recycling storm water.
Such liners are created from high quality resins, manufactured by innovative machines that produce consistent weaving, which adds to durability and reliability. The most preferred material for field liners is reinforced polyethylene (RPE). It enables water to move toward the reservoir and treatment area because it is impermeable. This also prevents excess water from soaking into the ground.
Geosynthetics are used not just below the surface, but above it also. Athletic fields need to be maintained, even in bad weather. Sporting surfaces require the use of tarps and covers to be protected. They not only help preserve the field for sporting events but also for any community events. All of the elements including sun, rain and snow can damage a field. A tarp or cover can preserve the field over the long run. Similar materials as used below the surface and in abutment area are also used as covers, to protect fields from stress.
Very large sheets and custom shapes of these materials are often required, to conform to canals, channels, pits, ponds and earthworks. “A geomembrane is an excellent complement with materials ranging from soil to metal to concrete, and can sometimes completely substitute for them,” says Shane Carter of Western Environmental Liner, adding that “of course the cost-effectiveness allows for larger solutions.” Carter’s company is one of the world’s largest providers of geomembranes and geotextiles for industrial-scale fluid management and conservation solutions.
When RPE is buried, it will generally last for 20 years or more. When used in conjunction with a permeable non-woven needle-punch geotextile, there is effective erosion control. It will also act as a water treatment by filtering out debris and chemicals, as this Pennsylvania watershed project illustrates in some detail.
Storm and irrigation water management prevents erosion of the surrounding environment and aids in water conservation by capturing storm water for subsequent irrigation. Given good management, a field can become sustainable by supplying its own water, while keeping athletic surfaces properly maintained for sporting and other community events. Water management is essential as we build out our natural environment and potentially remove natural barriers to erosion and pollution. Geosynthetic materials play an important role in this management.