LIFE SandBoil is a project coordinated by the Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering (DICAM) of the University of Bologna (Italy) and funded by the European Commission within the LIFE programme. Three other partners are involved: the Interregional Agency for the Po River (AIPo), Officine Maccaferri Italia srl and the North-Transdanubian Water Directorate (ÉDUVIZIG).

The LIFE SandBoil project has received funding from the European Union under grant agreement no. LIFE19 ENV/IT/000071.

PROJECT DETAILS

LIFE Sub-programme:
LIFE Environment and Resource Efficiency

Sector:
Water

Project start date:
October 1st, 2020

Project end date:
September 30th, 2025

EU Contribution:
1,552,062 €

LIFE Sub-programme: LIFE Environment and Resource Efficiency
Sector: Water
Project start date: October 1st, 2020
Project end date: September 30th, 2025
EU Contribution: 1,552,062 €

WHAT IS LIFE SANDBOIL?

LIFE SandBoil is a project aimed at developing an innovative, sustainable, natural-based and cost-effective engineering solution for the mitigation of the backward erosion piping risk in river embankments. Backward erosion piping is a type of internal erosion process in which pipes are created in the sandy aquifer underlying a water retaining structure, such as a dam or a river embankment, as a result of the removal and transport of soil particles by seepage pressures. The onset and progression of the phenomenon is typically revealed by the occurrence on the ground surface of the so-called sand boils, hence the acronym of the project. In a sand boil, local soil fluidization occurs and, due to high seepage pressures, particles are ejected on the ground surface and deposited in a ring forming a sand volcano. If the progression of the erosion towards the riverside is not stopped, failure of the river embankment may occur. Sand boils are often observed in many river systems worldwide. In Italy, over the last years a total of 130 sand boils have been catalogued along the river Po. Most of them have been mapped in the main course of the river and suffer from recurrent reactivations during high water events, whereas those located in the delta area reactivate also at relatively moderate water levels. The mitigation of this phenomenon is therefore a major concern for the safety of the surrounding territory.

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Objectives
and goals

The LIFE SandBoil final goal is to develop a complete and qualified market-ready technology, intended to stop the progression of the erosion process beneath river embankment susceptible to piping and suitable for large-scale implementation. The proposed countermeasure can be seen as an integrated solution, since it combines a mitigation technology with a fully automated monitoring system intended to assess the long-term effectiveness of the installation. The different activities of the LIFE SandBoil are primarily aimed at validating the prototype of the technology, through a multi-step process involving both small-scale physical modelling in the laboratory and a full-scale experiment in a pilot site. After validation, the technology will be implemented in an embankment of the river Po affected by frequent reactivations of “historical” sand-boils, and then replicated in selected critical areas of the Danube, in Hungary.

Objectives
and goals

The LIFE SandBoil final goal is to develop a complete and qualified market-ready technology, intended to stop the progression of the erosion process beneath river embankment susceptible to piping and suitable for large-scale implementation. The proposed countermeasure can be seen as an integrated solution, since it combines a mitigation technology with a fully automated monitoring system intended to assess the long-term effectiveness of the installation. The different activities of the LIFE SandBoil are primarily aimed at validating the prototype of the technology, through a multi-step process involving both small-scale physical modelling in the laboratory and a full-scale experiment in a pilot site. After validation, the technology will be implemented in an embankment of the river Po affected by frequent reactivations of “historical” sand-boils, and then replicated in selected critical areas of the Danube, in Hungary.

PROJECT ACTIONS

The LIFE SandBoil project includes a number of actions devised to develop a complete and qualified system for the mitigation of backward erosion piping beneath river embankments as well as to promote the technology for its future extensive implementation worldwide in different river basins affected by piping phenomena. The final aim is indeed to obtain a market-ready technology replicable in any fluvial context where sand boils endanger the stability of river embankments. The main actions of the project can be classified as follows:

 

Data collection

Collection and analysis of backward erosion piping evidences in Italy and Hungary for the development of a comprehensive database of sand boils along the Po river in Italy and the Danube river in Hungary.

 

Prototype validation

Realisation of the prototype through a multi-step process, involving multiple validation of the technology in the laboratory and in a pilot site, in order to identify the most effective configuration of the proposed mitigation system.

 

System prototype demonstration and replication in operational environments

After validation of the technology through both medium-scale and full-scale physical modelling, the project includes implementation of the final system prototype in a fully operational environment, e.g. real river embankments affected by piping phenomena. The idea is to extend the implementation of the technology to a wide range of stratigraphic conditions, all relevant in practical applications.

A demonstration action will be carried out in a segment of the Po river embankments prone to recurrent reactivations of sand boils during high water events.

The technology is planned to be replicated in two critical sites of the Danube river basin in Hungary, which experienced significant piping phenomena during the 2013 flood event, with the occurrence of large sand boils.

 

Dissemination

Particular emphasis is put on the dissemination of the project results for the successful transferability and replicability of the proposed mitigation technology. A wide variety of actions and strategies are planned to both increase public awareness of flood risk due to backward erosion piping and promote replications of the technology: organization of seminars and round-table discussion groups addressed to stakeholders, participation in conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, publication of technical guidelines for the design of the engineering solution, training courses.

Intense dissemination is addressed to the Authorities and public bodies responsible for flood risk management, development of flood risk reduction policies, and maintenance of water retaining structures, both in Italy and in Hungary, but also to other relevant stakeholders and targeted groups across Europe.

Field educational events, to be held in the pilot site in Boretto (RE) and mainly addressed to Master Degree and PhD students, are intended to be a crucial part of the dissemination activities among future practitioners.

 

Networking

Creation of a network of relationships and collaborations with other stakeholders, Environmental Agencies, River basin Authorities, regional and national public bodies involved at various levels in the management of river embankments, that are not project partners but have an interest in the LIFE SandBoil results.

Exchange of information with other LIFE projects or other European projects addressing themes similar or connected to the LIFE SandBoil contents.

A dedicated networking event will be organized by the coordinating partner (UNIBO) as part of the final conference, and a selection of LIFE projects focusing on similar or related topics will be invited.

PARTNERS

Coordinating Beneficiary

DICAM logo life sanboil

Alma Mater Studiorum

Alma Mater Studiorum

University of Bologna, Department of Civil, Chemical,

Environmental and Materials Engineering (DICAM)

University of Bologna, Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering (DICAM)

The Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna (UNIBO), founded in 1088, is one of the most important institutions of higher education in Europe and one of the most active Italian universities in research and technology transfer. Over the last years UNIBO has been involved in a very large number of European projects funded within different programmes (e.g. H2020, LIFE, INTERREG), as well as in other national projects funded indirectly by the European Union or by the Italian Ministry of Research.

The project is coordinated by Researchers of the Department DICAM who have a long year experience in major projects concerning hydraulic and geotechnical problems of the river embankments in the Po basin, as well as development of smart monitoring systems for flood protection infrastructures. The DICAM team’s skills cover Geotechnical Engineering, Geology, Hydraulic Engineering, Geomatics. Within the Alma Mater, a cooperation with the Department of Management (DISI) is included for the assessment of the socio-economic effects of the project.

DICAM, Viale Risorgimento 2, 40136 Bologna, ITALY

LISG – Laboratory of Structural and Geotechnical Engineering

LIDR -Laboratory of Hydraulic Engineering

Associated Beneficiaries

Aipo logo life sanboil

AIPO

The Interregional Agency for the Po River

The Interregional Agency for the Po River (AIPo) is an Italian public body responsible for flood protection and flood damage reduction in the Italian regions crossed by the River Po, namely Piemonte, Lombardia, Emilia – Romagna and Veneto. AIPo is in charge of the control, monitoring, design, construction and maintenance of hydraulic structures in the whole Po river basin. In addition, AIPo provides a service for forecasting and monitoring the flood events, as well as an emergency management service.

Within the LIFE project, AIPo is expected to cooperate in all the activities and interventions that will be carried out on the river embankments of the Po river. In particular, AIPo is in charge of the installation of the monitoring system, which is an integral part of the proposed mitigation measure against backward erosion piping. Furthermore, AIPO will have a key role in the updating and completion of the sand boil database covering the whole Po river basin.

AIPo, Str.da Garibaldi 75, 43121 Parma, ITALY

AIPo Research and Technical Centre, Strada per Poviglio 88, 42022 Boretto (RE), ITALY

maccaferri logo life sanboil

MACCAFFERRI

Officine Maccaferri Italia srl (OMI, IT)

Officine Maccaferri Italia S.r.l. (OMI) is a leading international provider of advanced solutions in civil, geotechnical and environmental construction and is specialized in highly innovative, advanced and environmentally friendly technologies. The company has a long-lasting, worldwide recognised expertise in coastal and river control works, including soil reinforcement, erosion protection, drainage of structures, hydraulic works.

Within the LIFE project, OMI is actively engaged in the design, construction and installation of the prototype in the pilot, demonstration and replication sites as well as in the development of technical guidelines with design criteria, calculation methods, installation procedures and maintenance suggestions of the proposed mitigation technology against backward erosion piping.

Officine Maccaferri Italia S.r.l., via J.F. Kennedy 10, 40069 Zola Predosa (Bologna), ITALY

Ungheria logo life sanboil
ÉDUVIZIG

North-Transdanubian Water Directorate (ÉDUVIZIG, HU)

North-Transdanubian Water Directorate (ÉDUVIZIG, HU)

The North-Transdanubian Water Directorate (ÉDUVIZIG) is a public body in Hungary responsible for the monitoring and the implementation of flood protection strategies along a segment of the Danube River and relevant tributaries. The Directorate is the professional technical operator in case of potential risk of water damage and acts as the mandatory property manager of the water-related governmental water bodies and lands. The Directorate plays a major role also in the work of Hungarian-Slovakian and Hungarian-Austrian Bilateral Water Committees based on inter-state agreements.

Within the LIFE project, ÉDUVIZIG is expected to support and participate in the different activities to be carried out throughout the whole duration of the project. In particular, ÉDUVIZIG is involved in the implementation of the technology in real river embankments, with special reference to those of the Danube river basin located in the relevant operation area and selected for replication as a consequence of their susceptibility to backward erosion piping.

ÉDUVIZIG, Gyor, HUNGARY.

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