The Booming Business in Wick Drains

by Allen Morrison, Asst. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1982, Vol. 52, Issue 3, Pg. 47-51

Document Type: Feature article


Prefabricated vertical wick drains, used to improve weak, saturated soils, have been used in Japan and Europe for 20 years but were introduced in the U.S. only four years ago. Since then they have replaced sand drains on most soil consolidation projects. Compared to sand drains, the plastic wicks offer quicker and less labor-intensive installation, higher reliability, equally or more rapid drainage, less environmental impact, and lower cost. Differences abound among the five wick drain systems currently available in this country. Some distributors claim the superiority of their products on the basis of such factors as installation method, filter strength and permeability, and discharge capacity. The article discusses these differences and their varying significance depending on site conditions. It also presents a brief history of vertical drainage, photos and diagrams of typical installations, and a list of drain suppliers.

Subject Headings: Consolidated soils | Drainage | Saturated soils | Drainage systems | Prefabrication | Sandy soils | Plastics | Labor | Japan | Asia | Europe

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