When the height of earth to be retained by sheet piling is small, the piling acts as a cantilever. The forces acting on sheet pile walls include:

1. The active earth pressure on the back of the wall which tries to push the wall away from the backfill

2. The passive pressure in front of the wall below the dredge line. The passive pressure resists the movements of the wall

The active and passive pressure distributions on the wall are assumed hydrostatic. In the design of the wall, although the Coulomb approach considering wall friction tends to be more realistic, the Rankine approach (with the angle of wall friction δ = 0) is normally used.
The pressure due to water may be neglected if the water levels on both sides of the wall are the same. 

If the difference in level is considerable, the effect of the difference on the pressure will have to be considered. Effective unit weights of soil should be considered in computing the active and passive pressures.

⇒  General Principle of Design of Free Cantilever Sheet Piling

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