As the fight against flooding continues, high tech solutions are appearing.
Martina Booth takes a look at the new tools in engineers’ boxes.
Self Erecting Low
A new self-erecting flood barrier has been successfully developed by a team of engineers.
The Self Erecting, Low Cost (SELOC) Flood Barrier is based on an idea by John Greenwood, a reader in geotechnical engineering at Nottingham Trent University, and has been developed in partnership with Aecom, PA Geotechnical and NTU.
The rotary moulded polyethylene units rest unobtrusively at ground level across the expected direction of water flow.
Each unit is anchored and hinged at one end. The other end swings upwards as the flood water rises until the units work together to create a barrier. The units can be covered with a surfacing, such as timber decking or rubber crumb, to provide a non-slip surface for pedestrians and cyclists.
The SELOC barrier is claimed to be cheap and quick to install, with initial estimates suggesting that it will cost 50% less than alternative flood walls.
A 50m long wall could be installed in less than a week, and the barrier can be terminated running into high ground or at vertical wall.
“The SELOC barrier will provide a quick, easy, low cost and durable flood protection system,” said Aecom technical director Steve Corbet.
Fugro Satellite imagery
Global geosciences group Fugro is using its advanced worldwide survey technologies and flood management consultancy services to combat the growing threat of flooding.
Using satellite imagery to monitor movement of flood defences and other structures, it also conducts airborne surveys from fixed wing or helicopter platforms. With more than 50 aircraft equipped with a broad range of cameras and sensing technologies, the company has completed photographic, mapping, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and geophysical surveys in flood prone areas around the world.
Fugro also conducts ground surveys in the battle against flooding, using ground penetrating radar, electromagnetic techniques and camera inspection. Such services have proved effective in yielding inventory and condition data for drainage assets, mapping moisture within road pavements or in unbound materials such as earth dams and levees.
UK Flood Barriers’ Self-Closing Flood Barrier
Designed in Holland, the Self-Closing Flood Barrier’s genius lies in the fact it is practically invisible when not in use.
This is because it is an automatic self-erecting barrier which lies concealed in a chamber below the ground and takes only a matter of minutes - with no human intervention - to rise into place when activated by water flowing into a filler basin.
Once the level of a watercourse rises to within approximately 100mm of overflowing its banks, a pipe channels water into the basin, which fills up and causes the polyester wall to float up vertically, protruding above ground and becoming a watertight flood wall. As the barrier deploys, its angled toes lock beneath a chamfer at the top of the steel casing, securing the barrier in place.
When flood waters subside, the basin is drained through a drain pipe with one way check valves, or by means of a pump. As water leaves the basin, the barrier sinks back to its resting position within its chamber. The stainless steel lid on top of the chamber then closes to prevent the inflow of waste or debris.
The barrier, reinforced by laminated steel strips, has a polyurethane foam core which ensures its buoyancy. The barrier can be built to any required length and will sit in the ground for 50 years with minimal maintenance.
Polypipe Civils has received approval from six water companies for its Ridgistorm-XL large diameter pipe system.
The manufacturer has invested in Ridgistorm in the hope that it will be widely used in flood defence schemes and sustainable urban drainage systems.
Southern Water, South West Water, Thames Water, Yorkshire Water and Wessex Water have all granted product approval for the Ridgistorm-XL system for use in capital schemes.
“These approvals demonstrate the effectiveness of the product within SUDS and surface water drainage schemes,” said Polypipe Civils development director Jason Shingleton.
“With the forthcoming changes expected as a result of the Floods & Water Management Bill and the move to adoptable SUDS, approvals from water companies demonstrates clear confidence in the use of new products and solutions and will encourage further involvement from the market.”
The Ridgistorm-XL system offers unique, patented electro-fusion jointing to provide superior joint integrity and improved health and safety performance, by reducing the requirement for heavy plant onsite and eliminating the need for welding inside the pipe. A push-fit rubber seal joint is also available for applications where electro-fusion jointing is not required, such as on smaller diameter pipelines.