Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Erosion Control.
A recent-multi-agency project involving several sediment and erosion control methods in various soil conditions during a natural gas pipeline project was one of the most challenging projects for Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control (FHEC).
Despite its inherent challenges, the project’s successful culmination illustrates the capabilities of a company that is versatile in its provision of services, geographic service area, and types of projects its employees will tackle.
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Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control, with offices in Stuart and Tallahassee, FL, last year provided services for the 40-mile pipeline project stretching along Florida State Road 710. The project was being constructed in a muddy area with unstabilized soils adjacent to an existing CSX railroad right of way.
“We had a 40-mile run from west to east where we had to put 40 miles of safety fence adjacent to the CSX railroad,” notes Brad Tanzer, president of Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control. “We had to go adjacent to the tracks encountering multiple soil conditions. Our crews performed BMP installations from silt fence to staked turbidity barriers to floating turbidity barriers in conditions ranging from solid to muddy and swampy.
“After the pipeline was installed, we had to perform finish grading, and then we had to apply hydroseeding for that entire 40-mile area,” says Tanzer. “It was an average of 50 feet wide.”
Although challenging, the pipeline construction project is typical of the level of work Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control is able to tackle. Tanzer has built up a company whose 31 employees’ jobs are performed anywhere from southern Alabama and Georgia south throughout the state of Florida.
Tanzer has done so by being able to meet criteria that other companies cannot. He started Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control 12 years ago as a result of a general contracting job for the MacDill US Air Force base in Tampa, a large demolition project requiring 20 acres of seeding or sod.
“The contract requirements required high insurance coverage, and I couldn’t find a sod contractor who could meet the insurance requirements,” says Tanzer of that project. “At that point, I said we were going to do hydroseeding. I went up to Atlanta, GA, and bought a 700-gallon Kinkaid hydroseeding unit and started my business.”
The company’s fleet now includes a Marooka rubber track carrier with a Finn T120 HydroSeeder, a Finn T120GN (gooseneck) HydroSeeder transported with a pickup truck or pulled by a 150-horsepower John Deere tractor, and a two-year-old Finn T330 HydroSeeder on a 10-wheeler, as well as water trucks and equipment to perform mulch and seed applications.
Finn has a reputation for designing and building a variety of purpose-built erosion control equipment, from track-mounted HydroSeeders for such companies as Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control to special equipment for the US Department of Defense. Finn’s HydroSeeder line ranges from 300- to 4,000-gallon capacities and uses 100% hydraulically driven, mechanical paddle agitation independent of the engine revolutions per minute. This enables fingertip control of the agitator speed and paddle direction for easier loading, mixing, and discharge.
Finn’s direct drive configuration uses an in-line, single shaft clutch/pump design for optimal torque utilization to help contractors achieve greater discharge distance while reducing maintenance.
The discharge boom is designed for operator comfort while handling high discharge pressures. The pump is designed to handle thick hydraulic mulch slurries and is easy to adjust in the field. An electric or hydraulic hose reel is optional.
Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control provides turnkey services in erosion and sediment control BMPs for projects including check dams, hydroseeding, drill seeding, conventional seeding, fertilizing, silt fencing, geotextile and turf reinforcement mat (TRM) installation, gabions, dust control, PVC pond lining, canal restoration, erosion control, and stormwater control. The company performs a wide range of work for a variety of clients, including airport authorities, construction firms, utility companies, railroad companies, and federal, state, and local government agencies. Primary clients include NextEra Energy, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and several Florida water management districts.
“We do a lot of work at solar plants—not only hydroseeding, but anything to do with BMPs,” notes Tanzer.
Other recent jobs include a US Army Corps of Engineers project at Big Cypress in the Florida Everglades and Kings Bay Naval submarine base in Georgia.
“My goal is to enter the project doing sedimentation controls,” says Tanzer. “We have the capabilities to trench and rock with our big Vermeer trencher. We install silt fence, floating turbidity barriers, staked turbidity barriers, and Hydrotex Filter Point linings.”
Hydrotex Filter Point linings have a cobbled surface and a relatively high coefficient of hydraulic friction to achieve lower flow velocities and reduce wave run-up. The filter points provide for the relief of hydrostatic uplift pressures, increasing the system’s stability.
Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control also is getting into some jobs calling for small articulated block projects and TRMs in canals, notes Tanzer.
A typical day for Tanzer’s company includes sending crews in different directions. On a recent day, a crew left the south Florida yard at 5 a.m. to drive to Miami for a road project near the Miami International Airport, installing 6,000 feet of turbidity barrier as well as 20 miles of Hydrotex Filter Point mat. A second crew left at 6:30 a.m. to go to Vero Beach on an FDOT project to install TRMs on a canal.
In choosing a seed mix for any particular job, Tanzer first considers the specifications, but adds, “What we’ve found out over the years is a lot of the specs that we look at are cut and pasted from someplace else. What we’ve suggested to a client is even though there is a specification for seed and a design mix, we’ll grab some soil samples.”
Those soil samples are submitted to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) respective county extension offices. “We tell them this is what we’re trying to achieve. They’ll tell us if the soil is OK the way it is or if we need special formulas for fertilizers and special seeds. We’ll submit it with a Request for Information to the client and at that point in time, they’ll say yay or nay and we’ll put the seed in,” says Tanzer.
Often the seed is a combinationof fast-growing species for quick cover plus slower-growing native seeds. As temporary seed, Florida Hydroseeding & Erosion Control uses rye in the cooler months and millet in the summer. The company uses various Bahia and Bermuda seeds for permanent application.
“We’ve done a lot of wildflower seeds on slopes at airports where they’re trying to cut down on maintenance,” notes Tanzer, adding that rye is used in the winter, millet in the summer, and then various seeds such as wildflowers that don’t need to be cut are applied.
The company also uses amendments, which Tanzer notes is a “smart way to do business. Our projects have grown from two-acre sites to 50-acre and 100-acre sites, and certainly we want to make sure the product is good.”
The company plots a site plan. On 10 acres, the company may take six to 10 soil samples, “especially if it’s a site where some of the site is virgin and some of the site has been imported fill,” notes Tanzer. “Obviously, there are different soil types. Sometimes you have to change your seed mix depending on the areas on the same site.”
Soil conditions vary throughout Florida. “In the Florida Keys, there are a lot of limestone-type soils,” says Tanzer. “By the time you get into the West Palm Beach area, it’s sandy with a small amount of organics. In the Orlando area, it’s a totally different ballgame because the soils do not retain water, so there are different amendments we have to put in our hydroseeding mix, especially moisture-retention products.”
Weather variations can present a challenge. “It’s easier to hydroseed in the dry season because you can control the irrigation,” points out Tanzer. “If you look at the rainfall amounts that we’ve had in Florida this year, it’s been tough where it’s been dry for a week and then all of a sudden, you get a four-inch rain event. Sometimes you get caught off guard, as with a recent project where we sprayed six acres and there wasn’t enough time for everything to dry in place and we had to redo it. You have to watch the weather. This has been a very strange year.”
Time frames are another consideration. The company does a lot of work at airports, which may mean working in the middle of the night when air traffic is minimal, such as a project at the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, FL, where the company provided 52,000 square yards of concrete pump mat.
A similar project was done on a runway expansion at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. “It was late at night,” notes Tanzer. “The traffic is easier to work with that way.”
Tanzer offers kudos for the Marooka-mounted Finn HydroSeeder for its ability to work in sandy conditions.
“The clients don’t want you to perform the hydroseeding and have large ruts everywhere,” he says. “That’s what would happen with a heavy piece of equipment. We use that track-mounted equipment quite a bit, especially for projects for Florida Power & Light and NextEra.”
His biggest challenges come in dealing with working with specifications “written by people who have no knowledge of the actual project and they want us to grow grass on an area where it’s tough to do it,” he notes.
“Especially in the Everglades, we have a lot of maidencane grass, and it’s tough to grow Bahia next to it,” he says. “That’s a big, big problem.”
Tanzer says he tries to serve the overall goals of the project by engaging in “good communication from the very beginning with the engineering firms. The goal is not to have to do any damage control. After 12 years in business, everybody knows us by now.”
To continue reading the full article check out the June edition of Erosion Control.
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