When the Levee Inflates

by Raymond H. Plaut, (M.ASCE), D.H. Pletta Prof. of Engrg.; Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Virginia Polytechnic Inst., Blacksburg, VA,
Stergios I. Liapis, Asst. Prof.; Dept. of Aerosp. and Ocean Engrg., Virginia Polytechnic Inst., Blacksburg, VA,
Demetri P. Telionis, F.J. Maher Prof.; Dept. of Engrg., Sci. and Mech., Virginia Polytechnic Inst., Blacksburg, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 1, Pg. 62-64

Document Type: Feature article


Rubber dams�long, flexible tubes, anchored to a concrete base and abutments and inflated with air or water�have been used since the 1950s, but installations have risen as technology has made them more durable and adaptable. Communities use them to increase the height of existing dams or spillways, impound water for recreational basins, divert water for irrigation or groundwater recharging, prevent river backflows due to high tides, and to control water flow for hydroelectric production. Researchers and manufacturers are now investigating the use of the same technology to produce portable flood barriers. Design alterations center on methods to keep the barriers from rolling out of position. Systems that would permanently surround critical facilities and inflate during flood conditions are also under consideration. Current research includes numerical analyses that model the barriers' response to floodwaters, as well as the use of geosynthetic tubes filled with dredged material rather than air or water.

Subject Headings: Water-based recreation | Spillways | Gates (hydraulic) | Numerical models | Dredged materials | Water storage | Water flow

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