Water-Inflated Flood Barriers

Floods October 09, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Water-inflated tubing is an effective emergency method of closing a gap, temporarily raising the height of an existing levee or putting a barrier around a building. It is easier to erect than a sandbag levee or wall, takes much less time and requires little storage space when deflated.

Water-inflated dams have been used widely in industrial applications for containment of oil spills, diversion of water for bridge construction and other large-scale operations. They are available in heights from 2 feet to 6 feet. Some are oval, with one or two internal baffles to prevent rolling; others get their stability from their triangular shape.

The level of protection is only as high as the lowest point along the barrier. This method is effective only on level sections of ground.

Using Irrigation Tubing

Aqua dam.
You can make a water-inflated barrier using irrigation tubing. This tubing comes from irrigation supply stores in 1320-ft. rolls (1/4 mile). Irrigation tubing is more fragile than a water-inflated dam, and it cannot withstand as much pressure or debris impact. Because the tubing doesn't come with the fittings you'd get with a dam, it can be more difficult to fill.

If the water flow from your municipal water system is too low, or you're filling a large section of tubing, you can speed up the process by pumping pond or flood water into the tubing.

Use heavy objects that don't float to keep the tube from rolling, sliding or shifting. These might include sandbags, concrete blocks or another section of tubing. On unpaved areas, you can drive stakes in the ground to keep the tubing in place. The tube can rest against a strong board placed across an opening.

Irrigation tubing will not hold back water to the full depth of its diameter. A 22-inch diameter tube may give you only 16 inches of protection. You can get a little higher protection by filling a second tube behind the first one, then laying a third tube in the groove formed by the first two tubes. Brace the lower tubes so they don't separate, and be sure you've closed the ends of the lower tubes securely. Put the tubes in place before you fill them.

Don't stack these tubes higher than two deep. The added weight will increase the pressure in the lower tubes and may cause them to rupture. For protection over 2 feet, use water-inflated dams or other systems.


Irrigation Tubing Staked for Flood Control


Irrigation Tubing in a Field Staked Irrigation Tubing



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