Floating Covers for Water Bodies: Solutions and Innovations in Evaporation Management

Floating Covers

Reservoirs and stationary artificial water reservoirs are built for a variety of reasons such as generating electricity, waterways and most importantly to store drinking water in large quantities. Floating covers have been used to keep the water clean and maintain purity, as open bodies of water are susceptible to contamination in the form of rainwater, excrement from birds, dead flora and fauna making its way into the reservoirs, making the water unfit for human consumption. Open reservoirs of water are also susceptible to loss of water by evaporation, making the preservation of stored water all the more important.

Evaporation management is understood to be the control and reduction of the loss of water due to the natural process of evaporation. The reducing water levels in open reservoirs can mostly be attributed to evaporation, which can have a significant effect not just on the quantity, but also on the quality of water being stored. Even as water evaporates, the minerals and salts that are left behind in the remaining water increases the salinity of the water, making it unusable.

The rate of evaporation from an open body of water is affected by temperature, surface area, humidity and wind speed, all of which needs to be addressed as a part of evaporation management. Loss of water by evaporation, combined by contamination by outside sources and the reduced availability of usable water has increased the need for covers for open water bodies.

Floating covers are essentially geomembrane traps that are spread over the surface of an open water body to protect it from contaminants and loss of water by evaporation. This can result in chemical and biological hazards, making it unfit for human consumption, making floating covers for water bodies an essential.

Floating Covers, Shade Balls and Other Innovations

Floating covers, which were introduced over five decades ago, are still among the most popular solutions to prevent contamination and evaporation management in open water bodies, offering some of the best cost vs. efficiency ratio. There have been many advancements in materials and design used to make these floating covers, newer materials being used include hypalon, geotextile and polypropylene, all of which are being touted as more efficient than materials to effectively reduce evaporation.

These floating covers and liners protect water in these waterbodies from airborne contamination, evaporation and algae growth, while reduction of demand for chlorine, and help maintain water potability.

Modular floating covers are becoming increasingly popular as floating dam covers, even as they are a solution against obstacles such as changing configuration of the water body and moving equipment. They offer a high surface area coverage and also acts like a thermal insulation barrier as well. Some of the more popular modular floating covers include: ArmorBall Shade Balls and Rhombo Hexo Shield, both of which offer cover permeability as a feature.

Alternative Evaporation Solutions

There have been several approaches to reduce water loss from large water bodies by reducing the exposed surface area, decreasing the wind effect and decreasing the temperature. Some of these alternative solutions to floating covers include:

  • Deep dam design: The idea behind this is the reduction surface area exposed, automatically reducing the volume of water evaporating.
  • Creating windbreaks: This reduces the movement of air over the surface of water, by acting as a barrier to flowing wind. This can be achieved by planting trees and other plants around the water body.
  • Chemicals and oils: Chemicals and oils are used to create a thin film on the surface of the open water body to reduce evaporation. The drawback however is the possibility of having these chemicals blown off from the surface into the surroundings.
  • Plants: Free floating plants have also been an effecting solution in reducing water loss, even as they cover the surface of the water, reducing its exposure.

Despite these alternative solutions, traditional and modular floating covers are the most effective solution for contamination prevention and evaporation management in open water reservoirs

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