Stormwater Management Innovation

Stormwater retention ponds can be beautiful and valuable additions to a community.

In our last blog, we discussed the basics of stormwater management, including explanations for traditional and “green” stormwater treatments. We received several follow-up questions from people who were wondering what we believe will be next in the development of stormwater technology. The world has recently seen a strong move toward environmentally friendly systems that treat stormwater in a sustainable fashion and lead to better overall water quality. New types of systems and designs are continually being developed, but the industry must find a balance point between performance, economics and longevity.

           What are some new stormwater management innovations?

Instead of hiding stormwater infrastructure underground or in unsightly pits at the back of a shopping center, many innovative plans now develop retention ponds as recreational assets—installed with decorative fountains, stocked with fish and more. In other areas, artificial wetlands provide attractive, diverse habitats for a variety of wildlife. When properly designed, systems like these use natural water filtration to reach acceptable water quality. Elements such as substrates, appropriately engineered retention ponds, healthy food chains and aquatic plants can all mitigate potential issues like algae blooms. In these systems, impermeable liners help communities to design and execute effective filtration systems where nature has been impeded.

Many older stormwater detention basins are both unsightly and unsafe. Redesigning is a priority, but residents and business owners often object to the associated taxes and fees.

           With all this great news, why so many objections to stormwater fees?

As communities seek to resolve their stormwater issues, residents and business owners have voiced strong objections regarding the associated stormwater fees. After all, if an issue is not affecting someone at the present, he or she is usually not interested in paying for it. However, it is important that municipalities and environmental agencies spend time educating the public regarding the causes and effects of stormwater problems, as well as the benefits of these innovative solutions. Groundwater and surface water contamination is a growing issue, and it will be far more expensive to remediate the effects later rather than to taking the steps to prevent contamination in the present.

           Which BTL products are best for stormwater applications?

Underground systems require a very strong and resilient liner to accommodate the wear and tear of fast-moving water that often contains debris and high sediment loads. BTL40 RPE is our strongest reinforced polyethylene liner and is perfect for such heavy duty applications. Above-ground systems allow for more choice in materials, but the specific choice will be dictated by ground and site preparation. Our proprietary BTL 24, 30 or 40 offers the best combination of durability and cost-effectiveness in most cases. In addition, BTL provides lightweight green geotextiles made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials to control soil erosion and to sandwich the liners, further protecting them from punctures and abrasions.

           Why should BTL be the supplier of choice for stormwater applications?

Constructed wetlands function as biofilters, reducing sediment, pollution and other contaminants. They can also restore habitats for native and migratory wildlife.

BTL specializes in very heavy duty RPE liners. Other types of liners, such as HDPE, PVC and EPDM, are not only less durable in terms of puncture resistance and strength but they are more expensive to install. At BTL, we can produce the largest panels in the industry, which significantly reduces installation time and associated labor costs while producing a higher quality product. BTL provides the fastest turnaround time in the nation, and we have a well-trained sales staff that offers individualized attention to every client. Our dedication to our customers is unmatched by our larger, more corporate competitors.

If you are an engineer, designer or procurement professional contemplating a new design for stormwater mitigation, we invite you to contact us at BTL Liners to discuss your project needs. Call us at 541-447-0712 to speak to one of our stormwater experts!



The Two Bulls Fire and Water Retention Ponds

This view from town shows smoke and flames visible on the horizon.

View of Two Bulls fire from the town of Bend, OR.

In the Deschutes National Forest, just west of our neighboring community of Bend, Oregon, a large forest fire, named Two Bulls Fire, has burned over 6,900 acres in the past week; the fire has spread very close to the town and prompted hundreds of evacuations. A pall of smoke continues to cover the area as firefighters work to contain it and we’re told the area will continue to smoke and smolder through the rest of the summer.

In the midst of our concern for friends and family, the BTL team was proud to learn that a 500,000 SF water retention pond that we lined only a month ago has already been used to provide water for helicopters fighting the blaze. Such aerial firefighting tactics are regularly used in large fires that can be difficult to contain. Helicopters refill in-flight using suspended buckets, which are dipped into ponds, lakes or rivers or hanging snorkels which siphon water directly into the helicopter’s tanks.

Helicopter using snorkel to draw water.

Helicopter using snorkel to draw water.

The use of these firefighting techniques depends on suitable water supplies that can be safely accessed while airborne. Particularly in remote areas, the use of water retention ponds is becoming popular to ensure the ready availability of the large quantities of water needed for such circumstances. Water retention ponds are constructed with geomembrane liners to ensure that the water supply is reliable even during periods of extreme drought. BTL’s impermeable synthetic pond liners are ideal for such applications.

Two Bulls fire from Bend, OR at night.

Besides the obvious benefits of pleasing aesthethics and the safeguarding of life and valuable structures, accessible water retention ponds will often lower insurance rates for property owners. If you are considering adding a pond to help safeguard your property, call BTL Liners at 541-447-0712 or request a quote online at




Golf Courses: Why So Much Water?

If you have ever golfed, yBTL Blog 39 Pronghorn2ou have probably been faced with landing your ball in a water hazard. If you are a frequent offender, you may have even wondered why course designers insist on incorporating so much water! While the widespread use of artificially constructed golf course ponds and other water hazards didn’t begin until sometime after WWII when modern earth-moving equipment became available, they quickly became de rigueur as golfers came to expect the appeal of dramatic “natural” landscapes incorporating forest, grasslands, water and gorgeous vistas. While the specific components of celebrated golf course design have changed over recent decades, the basic elements have remained the same.

No matter where they are located, most golf course designs incorporate water features. When used well, water features influence golf strategy, provide for irrigation reservoirs, drainage containment and flood detention areas, while providing aesthetic value. Construction of golf course ponds and lakes on particularly flat landscapes can even provide cheap fill dirt for the construction of rolling hills or other desirable features.

In today’s world, as environmental conservation has taken center stage, the use and proper re-use of water on golf courses has become increasingly important. Local municipalities require golf courses to supply their own water for irrigation and to serve double duty as flood-control areas and environmental filters. Today’s golfers also demand better irrigation and drainage than was expected in the past. As a result, virtually every golf course incorporates a large irrigation reservoir lined with an impervious membrane as an absolute minimum.

Btl Blog 39 Pronghorn3An added environmental benefit to the installation of multiple ponds, lakes and other water features on a carefully maintained golf course is the habitat that is provided for local wildlife. In fact, well-managed courses offer better habitats than some farm and park ponds. While the average golf course is comprised of only about 30 percent playable area, the lakes, forest and other natural areas meandering through and around golf courses provide a surprising amount of undisturbed areas for forage, cover and nesting. In fact, researchers have found that golf courses have proven to be more valuable from an ecological standpoint than even state parks and nature reserves about 50 percent of the time!

Whether the golf course designer’s ultimate focus is on aesthetics, strategy, or environmental conservation, the fact is that pesky water hazards are surely here to stay. At BTL Liners, we are proud to have worked with some of the industry’s best designers on the construction of stunning courses. Our liners are used to ensure that water is conserved even in the most challenging environments, and we are pleased that our efforts contribute to the preservation of wildlife and valuable ecological resources. For information and expert technical assistance with our geomembrane liners for golf course lakes and ponds, or for a quote on your specific project, call us at 541-447-0712 or visit us online at

BTL Blog 39 Pronghorn1


Cable Wakeboard Parks

Water skiing and other high speed water sports used to be available only to those lucky people with access to (and money for) a boat and a large body of water. Recognizing the limitations of such requirements, one dedicated fan of water skiing, Bruno Rixen of Munich, began working on the concept of water ski cableways as early as the late 1950s. The first prototypes of cable ski parks were built in Hamburg, Germany, and on the Baltic Sea. The first commercial Rixen water-ski cableway in Benidom, Spain, opened in 1966 and is still in operation.

Since the 1990s, an incredible shift has taken place in the cable ski park world. Formerly known just for water skiing, kneeboarding and occasionally barefooting, the sport of wakeboarding has virtually taken over. In fact, in 2004, the World Cable Wakeboard Commission published a survey of nearly all cableways around the world and found that nearly 95% of all patrons at cable parks worldwide are wakeboarders.

Wakeboarding itself has roots in the extreme sports of snowboarding and skateboarding. Originally, wakeboarding was performed, as its name suggests, in the wake of a power boat. However, cable parks have proven to be a superior venue for the sport. Cable is drastically less expensive and more convenient than traditional boat wakeboarding and it is environmentally friendly, efficient and quiet. Participants enjoy a much higher “uptime” than when riding behind a boat, and most significantly, every trick that can be performed behind a boat can be performed on a cable, and more!

Cable wake parks are spreading across the United States and across the world at incredible speed. Not limited to natural bodies of water, cable wake parks can be constructed around man-made lakes in virtually any location. BTL has had the privilege of fabricating and installing liners for several leading wake board parks across the country, including one recently in Woodland, California, encompassing over 500,000 square feet (BTL-40)!

No matter your next project, whether it’s a cable water park or a golf course pond, contact BTL Liners at 1-800-280-0712 for guaranteed containment!

Lining a new cable wake park in Woodland, CA

Audubon Certified Golf Courses

Golf courses can provide valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats in the communities they serve. Now, Audubon International has created an award-winning certification program that helps golf courses protect our environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program advises course managers on how to improve efficiency and minimize the potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations, through the reduction of chemical use, enhanced water conservation efforts and water quality management. More than 2000 golf courses from around the world have joined this program and more than 500 courses in the US have been designated as Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries.

Some of the efforts that Audubon sanctuaries might undertake include incorporating more native plant species, adding bird boxes, minimizing areas that need irrigation, or establishing wetlands for natural water filters where appropriate. There are rewards for participating in such efforts that go beyond public perception and reputation. In fact, an effective environmental management program can result in reduced insurance premiums, as well as reduced costs for energy, water, pesticides, fertilizers, equipment wear and labor.

BTL Liners has a long history of working with golf courses in construction and maintenance of ponds, and we can play an important part in the implementation of an Audubon certification plan. Our liners are fish and plant safe, lightweight, long-lasting and recyclable. Our state of the art fabrication facility can create the largest single panels possible to minimize seams, making installation faster and reducing the risk of leaks. Our RPE and RPP liners are ideal for environmentally conscious installations, where water conservation and water quality are important. BTL is also a member of the the GCBAA (Golf Course Builders Association of America) and the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America). Call us today at 800-280-0712 for more information!

Audbon Certified Golf Course

Floating Islands—10/1/2012

I’ve heard that floating islands can play an important role in treating wastewater and controlling algae. How is this possible?

Floating islands, sometimes called Floating Treatment Wetlands, are a fascinating technology that are being used in a variety of applications, including nutrient and pollution removal, wildlife habitat and wetland restoration, storm water management, management of effluent ponds and wastewater treatment.

The islands begin as a matrix of buoyant recycled material (such as shredded plastic drinking bottles) that resemble a loofah. This recycled material is then covered with a geotextile layer, soil and other materials to complete the physical structure. Plants appropriate to the growing conditions are added, and the island is either set free to drift or anchored in a convenient location. Roots from the plants grow down into the water, providing shelter and food for fish and beneficial microbes, while the surface provides a habitat for birds and other wildlife. Floating islands can be any size, and can be engineered to support a significant load. Since the island floats, it is not affected by changing water levels such as flooding.

The key benefit of floating islands comes from its interaction with the water. In many ponds and lakes near farm lands, as well as in manmade ponds, algae is a big problem. Fertilizers washed off during rains flows into natural ponds, groundwater and manmade catchments such as storm water runoff ponds. Algae flourishes in water that has an excess of nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen, and chokes out other forms of life, leaving an ugly, smelly mess. The plants growing on floating islands, however, readily absorb excess nutrients in the water and even cleanse the water of many types of pollution, including some heavy metals. Among the submerged roots of the island, colonies of microbes form that treat the water by consuming and thriving on large quantities of otherwise harmful nutrients.

The potential uses of floating islands for wastewater treatment, wetlands restoration and algae mitigation have spurred a variety of research projects regarding the specific capabilities of different plant types to absorb and cleanse the water of harmful substances. Floating islands are cost-effective to build, easy to use and maintain and are largely made from recycled materials. The BTL Liners team is excited about the continuing development of this technology. For more information about BTL’s Green Geotextiles, click here.

For more information about floating ponds, please visit

Since 1981, BTL has designed, fabricated and constructed liners and containment systems for projects all over the world!

Applications include: Recreational Pond & Lake Liners & Containment Systems, Energy Industry Liners & Containment Systems, Ranch & Farm Tarps, Liners & Containment Systems, Environmental Covers, Containment Systems, Pits and Conservation Solutions, Commercial Containment Liners, Waterscape Projects, Storm Water Containment, Government Projects, Hazardous Containment Projects and more!

BTL Liners • 3451 SW Empire Dr. • Prineville, OR 97754 • US only 1-800-280-0712 • 541-447-0712 • FAX 541-447-0759