Every bed needs a mattress - even a river bed!
Environmentally-friendly protection against erosion
The Reno Mattress belongs to the family of gabions but its
chief difference is that because it tends to be used for a different
purpose, it is wider and thinner than a typical gabion. Like the gabion,
though, it is a wire cage which is packed with large 'quarry waste' type
stone and wired to its adjacent mattress to create a continuous surface.
The origin of the name, Reno Mattress is not clear but it is my guess that
it is a play on the cage's low and elongated shape (the 'Mattress' part) and
Reno which has the distinction of being known as the divorce capital of the
world and the home of the instant nullification. Thus an extremely
uncomfortable night spent unadvisedly sleeping on a 'Reno Mattress' could be
likened to a night with an unwanted partner in Reno.
There is no intrinsic reason why a Reno Mattress cannot be used to retain a
soil bank but it tends to be used in preference in the bed of streams or
rivers - often immediately downstream of a weir or dam. The idea is that
these areas of the river bed are particularly prone to 'scouring' - erosion
caused by high velocity, turbulent flow and the mattress protects the bed.
This erosion is particularly important to prevent because if not attended to
can quickly undermine the foundations of the dam or weir with
consequentially dramatic results.
Sometimes the protection of the sides of the banks is required and
mattresses can be laid at an angle to provide this protection. Without its
cage, this protection is known as 'Rip-Rap' but it does the same job.
From an environmental point of view, these cages must score very highly.
They are quickly assimilated into the landscape, contain no chemicals or
other dangerous materials with the only really possible hazard being the
wire ties which bind them together. These should be made from galvanised
steel, twisted and turned in after snipping. Usually within a few years of
placement, vegetation will have covered exposed areas and the protection
becomes more or less invisible thus making it compare very favourably with
the more expensive concrete.
The requirement for fixing a Reno Mattress is similar to that required for
gabions namely an excavator and several semi-skilled labourers. There is no
need for a mason to lay the stone filling in any particular way.
Perhaps you know a different origin for the name Reno Mattress?
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