Geosynthetic technologies have emerged as a major tool in the battle against shoreline erosion, and TenCate Geosynthetics, Almelo, The Netherlands, has given the sturdy textiles a new form. The Geotube® system involves filling very large tubular textile containers with local sand or sludge to hold unstable banks in place. Shoreline stabilization frequently is accomplished with membranes covered by concrete or stone; geotubes eliminate the need to transport those materials. In addition, over time the water will gradually wash away the geotube contents, returning the shoreline to its original ecosystem.
Two timely projects illustrate geotube applications. In Nigeria, the Niger River’s banks and delta are eroding, crumbling houses and whole villages into the water. The Niger Delta Development Commission plans to install scour aprons on the riverbed to prevent it being worn away, and use geotubes to hold the aprons in place. In New Orleans, hurricanes Gustav and Ike wiped out beaches on Grand Isle in 2008. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will place a row of geotubes end to end, covering almost six miles of shoreline. The geotubes stimulate natural dune formation and will rehabilitate the beachfront.