FlexMat an alternative to traditional method for river training

Speakers are seen at the 11th International Perspective on Water Resources and the Environment (IPWE) conference at a Dhaka hotel on 4 January 2022.

Speakers at an international conference have called for widespread use of FlexMat technology in river across the country to protect riverbank from erosion and flood.

They made the recommendation at the eleventh edition of International Perspective on Water Resources and the Environment (IPWE) conference on Wednesday, said a press release.

The Environmental & Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE-EWRI) in partnership with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Institute of Water and Flood Management (BUET-IWFM) jointly organiaed the four-day conference in the city’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel.

Max Group is the sponsor of the international event.

The theme of IPWE-2023 is 'Risk and Resilience in the Time of Climate Change". A total of 145 papers will be presented at the conference in 24 technical sessions by participants from 13 countries.

In addition to 24 technical sessions, there were several keynote sessions including FlexMat for Bank Protection.

Local government, rural development and cooperatives minister Tajul Islam was in the chair of the session while David Maclean, founder of CEO, 7SEAS Group, Australia, was the speaker.

Satya Prasad Majumder, vice-chancellor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), and Md Abdul Matin, professor, Department of Water Resources Engineering Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, also address the session.

GM Alomgir, chairman of Max Group and director of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), moderated the session.

David Maclean, CEO, 7SEAS Group, Australia, who is the innovator of the original innovator of the PIMS method of concrete mattress manufacture that brought SeaMat and now next-generation FlexMat to the market.

FlexMat is a cluster of flexible blocks built with plastic and polymer and is used to protection the river bank from erosion. Dhaka-based Max Group brought this technology for the first time in Bangladesh and installed FlexMat on the bank of the Padma River near the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant as part of river training project.

Max Group chairman GM Alomgir said, “There should be no steel under water. So, Max Group installed FlexMat on the bank of Padma River to train the river and this FlexMat can last more than half a century. It is good alternative to traditional concrete block and geobag to prevent damage from devastating flood and river erosion. We can build embankment protection dam with FlexMat for any project in Bangladesh. Blue resources, green resources or marine resources, we should explore it. Water resources should be converted to asset.”

7SEAS Group CEO David Maclean said, “Use of FlexMat differs from other technology. It is very simpler and flexible and currently being manufactured in more than 20 countries. We can open a plant in Bangladesh for manufacturing and on-site assembly of FlexMat as well as for exporting other countries.”

Professor Md Abdul Matin said, “It is very difficult to predict its movement of a big river, so use of this technology should be reviewed and pilot project should be conducted. Besides, we should be careful to protect riverbank and riverbed to make this technology sustainable and cost effective and monitor the impact of this protective measure on river system through further research.”

BUET VC Satya Prasad Majumder said, “Once there were lots of cannels all over the country, but we lost it. Roads and highways have been constructed. This is time to convert the road to cannel since we lost many cannels. People lose home to river erosion and if we can protect our land people will no longer migrate to urban areas. So, this technology should be transferred to our universities for further research.”

Minister Tajul Islam said, “We face various problems including erosion, flood and salinity. Hundreds of people come to come every year after they lose their home to river erosion. Water also is required for many purposes including industrialization, but now upstream countries are withdrawing water decreasing the volume of water in downstream.

“Since Bangladesh is the biggest delta in the world, we face challenges related to delta. Since this innovation is apparently new, constructional and technical support will be provided. We have to work collectively so that we can to lift our country and reach our destination much earlier,” he added.