Drench or drought Continued...

Our climate may be changing but could plastic pipe technology offset all the many adverse effects of deluge followed by desiccation? The answer may well lie beneath our feet. Berlin's new airport is to become a showcase for this technology and Europe is taking note. No flash floods at Berlin's new Airport.

No flash floods at Berlin's new Airport 

When the new Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport opens in 2011, it will benefit from one of the largest rainwater infiltration schemes in Europe. Typically, airports require a labyrinth of costly drainage pipes and tunnels to maintain rainwater run-off from their open and exposed surfaces. However, this scheme will mitigate flooding and land subsidence through harvesting rainwater from runways, perimeter and access roads and then releasing it gradually. 

Preparation of basement

Preparation of basement

Light weight and easy to install, the units (600 x 600 x 1,200 mm) were installed in two layers within a pit configuration that measured 22 meters wide by 330 meters long. Made from a special polypropylene, they are specifically designed to facilitate inspection and maintenance. 

Installation of Plastic Units

Installation of Plastic Units

Over 100 truckloads were required to transport the infiltration units and ancillary equipment such as plastic manholes, drainage pipes and fittings. However, installation of almost 2,000 of these units was carried out in a matter of days and without the use of heavy lifting equipment. 

Backfilling

Backfilling

Once the airport is completed, it will replace three existing airports in the Berlin area. It will embrace a surface area equivalent to 2000 football fields and serve an estimated 30 million passengers per year. Above ground, its air traffic will provide a long awaited improvement to the nation's communication links with the rest of Europe. Below ground, it will have a sustainable system for rainwater management that will endure for at least 50 years. 

Tempus fugit 

Peter Verlaan reports considerable progress in the preparation for a standard for requirements and test methods for modular box units for underground infiltration, attenuation and storage systems. Verlaan is secretary of the CEN work group (WG26) and is spearheading the standardization process on behalf of the TEPPFA Civils Group. 

"We still have a few minor issues to iron out," says Verlaan. "These systems are growing in popularity and the aim is to seek approval within the next 18 months. Users rightly expect that these products meet all the technical requirements and we are working hard to ensure their confidence is assured." 

Peter Verlaan is from the Application, Standardization and Certification department of Wavin in Dedemsvaart, The Netherlands.