Technical News

Exclusively for Allan Block Design Professionals

December 2022

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Our Design Professional ABU Online events were created to help you with your retaining wall needs. Our local production and sales partners will be happy to schedule in person training on any topics you see below (call us if you are looking for those individuals) but feel free to use these to help with immediate needs.

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Best Practices for SRW Design
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Water Management and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
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The Value of SRWs vs Alternate Reinforcement Systems
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GRS/IBS Application
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Inspiring Project Ideas






In this Issue:

Case Study: Kilkenny Drive

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In 1997 the residence of Winnipeg experienced the “Flood of the Century” due to Red River swelling as a result of abundant snowfall and extreme temperatures that spring. Winnipeg was tasked with finding a solution to provide permanent flood protection for the residential areas along the riverbank and Kilkenny Drive North Community was one such area. A segmental retaining wall design that created a dike - walls on two sides - was chosen to provide flood protection with a pleasing aesthetic while preserving the existing trees and minimizing the environmental impact.

The design by J. Bert Smith of KGS Group, consisted of terraced walls, access ramps and landscaping as a way to maximize the useable back yards while still providing an appealing visual. The riverbank walls incorporated free draining granular zones for stability, while the yard drainage was regulated with gate valves, culverts, watertight caps and clay plugs to keep the flood waters from impacting the residents.

Check out the full case study here or on our website.

Kilkenny Drive

Engineer Talk: Water Management

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What causes 63% of wall failures? WATER! That is why proper water management is paramount in designing a wall built to last.

Things to consider:

  • Will the grading near the wall cause water collection?
  • What drainage options would work best for this wall type?
  • Where could concentrated water be onsite? (irrigation, water lines, nearby down spouts, etc.)

Toe Drain

Allan Block offers vast amounts of information on how to properly drain retaining walls. Typical water management details, alternative drainage details, and water application details can all be found on our website for visuals on how to set up proper drainage.

The most common type of drains are heel and toe drains, which are drainage systems utilizing perforated piping to carry water that infiltrates the infill area of the wall. For more information on drainage options, check out our Best Practices for Segmental Retaining Wall Design booklet or for specific project help reach out to our engineering department at or 800-899-5309 x3.

Tools: AB Walls Drainage Options

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Did you know AB Walls has options to enhance your wall’s drainage? AB Walls gives designers options such as infill caps, swales, and several types of drains to ensure every AB Walls design implements proper drainage. Simply click on the Design Parameters button, between the big blue arrows in cross section design then choose the Wall Drain Options tab. This gives you the choice to add any drainage options for your specific project.

The first step for choosing additional drainage options is to pinpoint where water might be coming from. Knowing the difference between surface and subsurface infiltration can be a deciding factor as to which options to add into your design.

Surface infiltration is all water coming from above the wall and infiltrating into the infill area. Subsurface infiltration is all other water getting into the wall from the foundation and retained soil areas.

AB Walls offers drainage options such as:

  • Infill caps and drainage swales to prevent surface infiltration
  • Chimney and blanket drains to assist drainage from subsurface infiltration
  • A water application option for infill area
  • Alternate drains to vent out the face of the wall

Water Management

If you are interested in learning more about specific drain options and how they can keep your next project standing for years to come, feel free to reach out to our engineering department at or 800-899-5309 x3.

Contractor Talk: Temporary Water Management during Construction

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We’ve all dealt with managing water after a retaining wall has been built and we have covered this topic in multiple places such as Best Practices and our Retaining Wall Tech Sheets. How though, do you handle water during the construction? Have you ever had a project delayed due to water being in your work area? Put together a water management plan so your projects will not be affected by inclement weather and the crews will be able to complete their work on time.

Check out the Allan Block Commercial Installation Manual for tips on what should be accounted for as the wall designer.

  • Identify Concentrated Sources of Water, i.e. irrigation systems, parking lots, etc.
  • Site soils
  • Grading at top and toe of wall

Water Management

Identifying potential sources of water is important; especially if they will be concentrated by surfaces such as parking lots or even downspouts and other stormwater capture systems. These can deliver large amounts of water during a rain event and temporary berms may be needed to direct water away from the construction site.

Additionally, intimate knowledge of the soils is required to achieve the design level of compaction. Along that line, the type of soil you are working with may hold water longer, and delay the restart to construction. Consider covering the work area to maintain relatively dry conditions in the construction area to limit delays due to soil saturation.

Finally, temporary grading both at the top and toe of the wall is important to provide a path for water to move away from the construction area. Surface runoff must be diverted so it does not drain over the top of the cut and into the work zone, either through temporary berms or surface drainage swales.

If you have further questions about water management during the wall construction or want to ask a question specific to your project, please contact our engineering department at or 800-899-5309 x3.

Hot Topic: Embankment Protection Fabric

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Did you know that Segmental Retaining Walls can be used for applications where water will always be present? Allan Block has a wealth of literature that cover the additional considerations that should be taken when working on these types of projects. Of the considerations noted in Allan Block’s published Best Practices for Retaining Wall Design document , we are going to focus our Hot Topic discussion on embankment protection fabric.

We often get this question and decided we should address why embankment protection fabric should be used for water applications. First let’s address what specifications the fabric needs to meet. Table 1 to the right provides minimum specifications for strength and permeability. We can see that the fabric’s opening size and permeability are small/low, which creates an effective barrier between the infill and existing site soils.

Embankment Protection
Water Application Best Practices

With water applications Allan Block recommends removing existing site soils from the reinforced area and extending the wall rock used in the cores of the blocks to the depth of the geogrid reinforcement. This provides a quick drainage path for water getting into the area behind the wall facing due to the lack of fine particles. We want to prevent the existing site soils from migrating into this area and clogging the wall rock by using embankment protection fabric. Wrap the fabric both under the infill mass and up the back of the reinforced area to a height 12” taller than the predetermined high-water level as shown in the cross section to the left.

For more information on using embankment protection fabric in water-based retaining wall applications please contact our engineering department at or 800-899-5309 x3.

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