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Publication #ABE 383

BMP: Ribbon Barriers1

Kati W. Migliaccio, Brian Boman, Jemy Hinton, and Kevin Hancock2

Introduction

Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been identified for different commodities, regions, and situations throughout Florida. This publication addresses a specific set of BMPs that can be described as ribbon barriers.

The objective of a ribbon barrier is to protect water quality by preventing aquatic plants and floating debris from passing through an outfall, culvert, or into a major water conveyance. (An outfall is generally considered the end of a piped water conveyance system where water has been directed from one location to another, often where a pipe end directs water into a ditch or other water storage structure.)

Ribbon barriers are often used due to an abundance of aquatic weeds in a system that clog or restrict drainage and water movement (Boman et al., 2002). In addition, decomposing aquatic weeds release nutrients that remain suspended in the water and are readily transported by drainage discharge. These organic particles contribute to turbidity that blocks light penetration of the water, thus reducing oxygen and negatively affecting aquatic systems.

Description of Ribbon Barriers

Ribbon barriers upstream of outfall structures reduce offsite discharges of floating aquatic vegetation into the drainage system. Ribbon barriers should be used in conjunction with chemical or biological aquatic weed control strategies.

Ribbon barriers (Figure 1) are installed upstream of outfall structures to prevent aquatic weeds from entering a canal system. In typical low flow conditions, a barrier with an 18-inch skirt is recommended. If high flow conditions are commonly experienced, a barrier with a 30-inch skirt is recommended. Ribbon barriers vary in length and depth and can therefore be custom fit to any canal or ditch. Ribbon barriers are most effective when attached to the bank and allowed to move vertically according to canal stage levels. Ribbon barriers should be utilized in conjunction with chemical or biological aquatic weed control programs.

Figure 1. 

Example of Ribbon Barrier


Credit: P. Whalen
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Benefits of Ribbon Barriers

Ribbon barriers have additional benefits besides preventing the restriction of flow due to the build up of weed masses. Weeds that are mechanically collected and eliminated from the water remove a significant amount of nutrient loading associated with the plant material (Diaz et al., 2005). This method is especially effective for removing phosphorus from the system.

Ribbon Barrier Costs

Cost for implementing this BMP varies depending on the accumulation rate (or maintenance) of aquatic plants and the type of equipment used to harvest the aquatic plants.

Ribbon Barrier Maintenance

Accumulated debris needs to be periodically removed mechanically by use of screen rakes, mechanical harvesters, cranes, track-hoes, or backhoes. Removed debris must be placed so that drainage and decomposition will not re-enter the system. Accumulated sediments may also need to be removed periodically.

References

Boman, B., C. Wilson, V, Vandiver, Jr., and J. Hebb. 2002. Aquatic Weed Management in Citrus Canals and Ditches. Circular 1408, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/CH181

Diaz, O.A., T.A. Lang, S.H. Daroub, and M. Chen. 2005. Best Management Practices in the Everglades Agricultural Area: Controlling Paraticulate Phosphorus and Canal Sediments. SL228, Soil and Water Science Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/SS448

Footnotes

1.

This document is ABE 383, one of a series of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department. UF/IFAS Extensio. Original publication date October 2008. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Kati W. Migliaccio, associate professor, Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC), Homestead, FL; Brian Boman, professor, Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC), Ft. Pierce, FL; Jemy Hinton, member, BMP Implementation Team, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC), Balm, FL, Kevin Hancock, member, BMP Implementation Team, IRREC, Ft. Pierce, FL, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.