Dams, Dikes, Levees, Water Barriers

What are dams, dikes, levees, and water barriers?

Dams, dikes, levees, and water barriers are all methods of flood protection. These flood protection systems are similar, but can be used in different scenarios. TrapBags® can be used in any of these cases to effectively control the flow of water and protect land and property.

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TrapBags set up as a dam in California

Dams & Temporary Dams

Dams and temporary dams are used to control water on construction sites that are in the water. Often, contractors will build a temporary water dam to protect the areas where they need to build a structure like a bridge. These temporary dams help prevent water from entering the area, allowing the construction area to dry and become suitable for construction. 

Temporary dams, as opposed to other traditional water removal methods present a more efficient and affordable solution.

How do you build a temporary dam?

There are many ways to build a temporary dam including using traditional sandbags. To install a temporary dam wall using sandbags, first fill the bags half full. Keep in mind that you will need more than one person to accomplish this as one person will need to hold the bag open while the other fills. After filling, start to stack the bags. 

The base of the temporary dam will need to be three times wider than the height in order to maintain stability. After laying each layer of bags, tamp them down to make sure that they are stable and there are no gaps. The finished dam should be triangular. 

A trick to strengthen your dam is to alternate the gaps as you lay each layer of sandbags. You only need to tie off bags that are not held down by other bags.

To reinforce your dam, you can create something called a “bonding trench.” To do so, dig a ditch that is approximately two bags wide and one bag deep. Next, place bags in the trench. Use these bags as the center point of your dam. Build your layers on top.

You can also take the extra step to seal your dam. To do this, lay a plastic sheet under where you are going to build your dam. After, build your dam on top of the sheet, then wrap the plastic around the whole dam. You can hold the sheet in place by stacking extra sandbags on the loose end.

Building your own temporary dam is difficult work. Conversely, TrapBags® are quick to install and proven to withstand whatever mother nature brings to bear from mudslides and floods to coastal storms and intense wave action.

Whether you need a short barrier or a tall one, we have you covered with bags in multiple sizes that, like traditional small to large sandbags, can be stacked on top of each other to give you endless protection options. And TrapBag® requires no special fill material. For temporary barriers you can use sand or gravel, or cement if you need a permanent barrier solution.

What are dams used for?

Dams are used in plenty of applications in order to stop or slow the flow of water. Dams can be used to create reservoirs for irrigation or water supply. They can also be used to prevent water from entering a construction site, or to prevent flash floods.

How are TrapBags® used for dams?

Dams are used to hold back water, just like TrapBags® are. Since TrapBags® have stacking capability they are useful for reaching the desired height of dam.

TrapBag® is a low cost, rapid deploy flood and erosion control barrier bag similar to, yet superior to, conventional sandbags. Our bags are designed to protect life and property from natural disasters such as flash flooding, mudslides, mud flows, levee breaches and storm surge. TrapBag® is versatile and may be used for other kinds of protection from security barriers to storm-water control.

TrapBag® is a series of pentagon-shaped bags that are sloped on one side, vertical on the opposite side and open at the top for filling. Each of the cells are connected side by side like an accordion, each cell has a common wall with the next cell, and are collapsed during storage and deployment. The cells are made of high-strength textile. Each of the cells are self-contained yet rely on the next cell for added strength. If one of the cells is compromised, it will not affect the rest of the barrier, which will remain standing strong.

TrapBag® uses 40% less fill material than a stacked sandbag wall, but more importantly a single 100 foot section of 4ft high TrapBag® replaces approximately 8,000 sandbags making TrapBag® Barriers an excellent alternative to small and large sandbags. TrapBag® Barriers can be filled with sand, washed gravel, or concrete. Avoid filling with silt, clay, or rocks greater than 2 inches across.

TrapBags used as a temporary dike

Dikes & Temporary Dikes

Dikes and temporary dikes — also called “berms” — are ridges that help to regulate water levels. They are often used to protect against or prevent flooding. Dikes are different from dams because dikes only have water on  one side of the barrier. Dams have water on both sides, and work to retain water. Dams also run through the water, whereas dikes run parallel to the water. Dikes work to protect land that would naturally be underwater the majority of the time.

What is the purpose of a dike?

The purpose of a dike is to protect land and property from the water on the other side. These embankments work to prevent flooding and hold back the water. The removal of dikes would result in a flood.

Temporary dikes can be used to divert water from areas that have been disturbed like cut or fill slopes. Temporary diversion dikes can redirect water to a chosen stabilized outlet (USEPA, 1992). When temporary dikes are placed at the peak of a slope, they can help reduce and redirect water flow, reducing the resulting erosion. 

How do you build a dike wall?

To build an effective dike wall using sandbags, much planning and consideration is required. Temporary sandbag sikes are built much like temporary sandbag dams. Again, this is a physically demanding process. Sandbags typically weigh upwards of 40 pounds and cannot be installed properly by an individual. 

Conversely, using TrapBags® to build a dike wall is incredibly efficient. TrapBag® is a low cost, quick deploy, self-supporting, cellular barrier capable of completely replacing sandbags for all natural or man-made disaster defense needs. TrapBag® barriers come in 50ft sections and can be connected.

How are TrapBags® used to build dikes?

Dikes are built to stop water from flooding into low-lying areas. TrapBags® allow you to build a dike however long and tall you want it to be.

TrapBags® can support existing dikes. When water levels outside the dikes are expected to rise above the dike’s safety levels, a TrapBag® barrier system can create a quick solution to protect the area.

TrapBags® can also function as dike walls on their own depending on the situation. Our bags provide protection from natural disasters such as flash floods, beach erosion, mudslides, storm surges, levee breaching, and more.  

TrapBag® is a series of pentagon-shaped bags that are sloped on one side, vertical on the opposite side and open at the top for filling. Each of the cells are connected side by side like an accordion, each cell has a common wall with the next cell, and are collapsed during storage and deployment. The cells are made of high-strength textile. Each of the cells are self-contained yet rely on the next cell for added strength. If one of the cells is compromised, it will not affect the rest of the barrier, which will remain standing strong.

TrapBag® uses 40% less fill material than a stacked sandbag wall, but more importantly a single 100 foot section of 4ft high TrapBag® replaces approximately 8,000 sandbags making TrapBag® Barriers an excellent alternative to small and large sandbags. TrapBag® Barriers can be filled with sand, washed gravel, or concrete. Avoid filling with silt, clay, or rocks greater than 2 inches across.

TrapBags used as a temporary levee

Levees & Temporary Levees

Levees are embankments built to safely keep water away from farmland, industrial areas, and cities. Levees are used when land becomes vulnerable to flooding due to rain or melting snow.

What are levees?

Levees can be made of things like stone, soil, cement, or sandbags. Levees are used throughout the United States along major rivers like the Mississippi River. Property owners in these river regions use levees to protect their land and homes. The Army Corps of Engineers has also directed the construction of more than 2,000 miles of levees along the Mississippi River.

Temporary levees made using TrapBags can be easily installed in a specific location in order to prevent flooding from runoff, rain, or melting snow.

How do you build a temporary levee?

Levees can be made of natural materials like soil, clay, or rock, and fastened in place through the planting of deep rooted vegetation. These levees are often rendered ineffective due to breaks that lead to catastrophic flooding.

Solutions like TrapBag® are more effective and durable in these cases.

When water levels outside the levees are expected to rise above the levee’s safety levels, a TrapBag® barrier system can create a quick solution to protect the area. Such as the temporary levee we built in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

How are TrapBags® used for levees?

Levees are built to prevent flooding from overflowing rivers. TrapBags® can be installed to create a levee or they can be installed on top of a levee giving it more height protection.

TrapBags used as a temporary water barrier

Temporary Water Barriers

Temporary water barriers work to prevent flooding and/or provide a dry construction site for water construction like bridges, piers, or hydraulic systems. Water barriers can be made of sandbags, or other materials. They include flood prevention systems like dams, levees, dikes, and cofferdams.

TrapBags® can be used in a variety of temporary water barriers and present an efficient, durable, and affordable option compared to more traditional methods of flood prevention.

How do you make a water barrier wall?

There are many methods to build a water barrier wall. The different types of water barrier walls include: 

  1. Cofferdams
  2. Traditional Sandbags
  3. Dams
  4. Dikes
  5. Levees

Each of these types of flood protection systems can be built using the innovative TrapBag® product. Using TrapBags® to create a water barrier wall will save time, energy, and money when compared to traditional methods of flood prevention.

How do you build a berm around a house for flood protection?

A berm is another term for a dike. Berms help prevent flooding and can be used to protect a house from floods. 

If your area is experiencing a higher level of precipitation, a berm can help redirect runoff to a different area to protect your yard and home.

There are a few basics to keep in mind when constructing a berm.

  1. A berm needs to be at least five and a half times longer than it is tall.
  2. A berm needs to slope into the yard.
  3. A berm should be 2 feet tall maximum, but can vary in height below 2 feet.

To construct a berm on your property, you will need either surveying tools or a surveyor to help you mark elevations. You will also need supplies like a shovel (or a Bobcat), fill materials, and a rake. Fill material can be things like plant debris, rubble, sand, asphalt, etc.

First, survey and mark elevations on your property using surveying equipment or by hiring a surveyor to assist you. Next, layout where your berm will be built and remove any grass or vegetation. Begin digging and removing dirt from the area. 

After you’ve dug out where your berm will be, you can add your fill material. You’ll need to pack the surrounding area using soil. Next, create the slope of the fill layer. Once your slope has been created, tamp down the fill material so that your berm is the correct height. 

The peak should be near one of the ends both for a cleaner look and to help create a proper water flow. The peak should also be at the end that you want to direct water away from. 

Add your topsoil and tamp it down using your shovel. After tamping, rake the sides to smooth them down.

Finally, plant vegetation on top of the berm in order to help hold it in place. The plant roots will hold the fill material in place and make the area look nice.

How are TrapBags® used for water barriers?

TrapBags® are rapidly deployable and simple to install making them the preferred choice in water barriers.

Resources:

USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1992. Storm Water Management for Construction Activities: Developing Pollution Prevention Plans and Best Management Practices. EPA 832-R-92-005. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington, DC.

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