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Bituminous Geomembranes (BGM), 15 years of presence in Latin America for Hydraulic Applications

The paper will overview the reinforced structure of bituminous geomembranes (BGM) and its specific characteristics that make it a valuable option for waterproofing hydraulic applications such as dams, reservoirs and canals. An overview of the properties will be described such as its low coefficient of permeability, its low thermal expansion coefficient that allows the installation of the BGM under almost any weather condition without wrinkling, its high friction angle allowing the use of steeper slopes that minimize earthmoving requirements, its large unit mass that allows handling and installation under heavy wind conditions and under water, its ability to be fixed to concrete, its strong resistance to weathering especially when exposed to UV radiation, its high puncture resistance promotes eliminating the need to use additional geotextiles for protection, and its suitability to store potable water that is certified by an international institute. Various case studies in South America will be illustrated. In dam applications, there is a 23-m high roller-compacted concrete (RCC) dam in Chile. The paper will describe a water reservoir at the Toromocho mine in Peru in the Andes mountains at an altitude of 4,800 meters and the raw water storage ponds in Pirque, near Santiago de Chile to feed the water treatment plant of the Santiago potable water system. This work includes a layer of asphalt and a concrete slab directly on top of the BGM allowing the periodic cleanup and removal of sediments from the ponds. Finally, the paper will mention different cases in Chile where BGM was used to waterproof irrigation canals, a canal to handle rainfall and surface drainage around the spoil dump at the Pelambres Mine.