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Experience with geosynthetics in canal irrigation projects supported by the world bank

The first significant applications of geosynthetics in civil engineering date back about 60 years ago. However the acceptance of geosynthetics as sealants for canals in irrigation projects has been slow in comparison to other civil engineering applications. There is a strong adherence of irrigation agen-cies to old design standards for canal lining using rigid materials, mainly concrete, despite the evidence of rapid deterioration of these materials and the failure of functionality. The paper discusses the reasons for the slow adoption of geomembranes in canal irrigation projects. The paper then presents the application of geosynthetics in canal irrigation projects financed by the World Bank. In most cases the adoption of geomembranes was dictated by the local conditions such as the presence of gypsum soils in Syria, the wa-ter logging and poor sanitation conditions of the villages along the canals in Pakistan, the freezing and thawing destructive impact on concrete lining in the Tarim Basin, China and in Central Asia countries. Use of protected polymeric geomembranes remains the main application of geosynthetics for lining of ir-rigation canals. However other technical options such as application of bituminous or EPDM geomem-branes or Geosynthetics Clay Liner ((GCL) are now under consideration.