Underwater Installation of Filters Systems for Scour and Other Erosion Control Countermeasures

The ongoing occurrence of stream channel migration and scour are often cited as the leading cause of bridge and other failures in the United States. The growing need for techniques to control stream instability and scour occurrences have spawned considerable research on the benefits of various types of hydraulic countermeasures and a number of publications have been written, including FHWA’s HEC 23 Bridge Scour and Stream Instability Countermeasures Experience, Selection, and Design Guidance, that provide guidance on the applicability and design of different countermeasure types. A necessary component found in many countermeasure designs is the provision of a filter between the countermeasure and the underlying soil. While the countermeasure protects the soil from the shear stresses that erode the soil particles, a filter has been found to be necessary to prevent the removal of soil particles through the voids and cracks in the countermeasure structure. Installations that do not include a filter often slow down the scour process but ultimately the removal of supporting soil particles results in an undermining and failure of the countermeasure. Geotextiles have become the filter of choice for most designers but granular filters are also possible. The current technical guidance on countermeasure design includes recommendations for either a geotextile or a granular filter to be placed under the countermeasure. However there is little guidance to construction personnel on actual installation techniques when installing a filter under water. Through interviews conducted in FHWA hydraulic program reviews of state DOTs and from technical assistance calls from bridge owners, it has become apparent that few countermeasure installations in water actually include a filter as shown on the design plans and as recommended in the technical guidance publications. The most common reasons given for this omission of a filter have been due to constructability issues or environmental concerns. DOT construction and maintenance personnel along with general contractors, who perform the countermeasure installations, have not been educated on how countermeasures function and the value of an underlying filter. Without this knowledge of the function of a properly installed filter, involved personnel have often eliminated underwater filters instead of developing creative techniques for the filter installation. Similarly, the designer may not recognize the importance of addressing constructability and environmental concerns when selecting a filter system. Since an appropriate filter is an essential component of countermeasure armoring systems, this practice must be corrected immediately if these systems are to function as designed. As such, research on filter selection, design, and installation techniques for scour and erosion countermeasure systems in various underwater conditions is warranted. The objective of this research was to develop specific guidance for design, construction, and maintenance personnel on the function of filters and their installation. The research should consider various depths and velocities of stream flow for placing geotextiles and granular filters under countermeasures. The final report will be published in June 2018.  


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 24-42

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Dekelbab, Waseem

  • Performing Organizations:

    Ayres Associates

  • Principal Investigators:

    Clopper, Paul

  • Start Date: 20140630
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180331
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180331
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37693

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543538
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 24-42
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 18 2014 1:01AM