Raising the Bar in Flood Prevention

Posted: Wednesday 2nd December 2009

The recent heavy downpours which have battered parts of the UK and caused severe flood warnings to be put in place could be a thing of the past thanks to an ingenious invention 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, PAGeotechnical and NTU.

The rotary moulded polyethelene units rest unobtrusively at ground level until the flood waters arrive, at which point the flood water lifts the buoyant barrier units, which are hinged on one edge to automatically provide the flood protection. The polyethelene 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 Flood Barrier is cheap and quick to install, with initial estimates suggesting that it will cost at least fifty per cent less than alternative flood walls. A fifty metre long wall could be installed in less than a week, and the barrier can be terminated running into high ground or at vertical wall.

Important features of the SELOC Flood Barrier are:

§ It is self erecting, and is solely activated by the flood water (there is no dependence on mobilised manpower);

§ It preserves the waterside landscape, and offers no visual intrusion;

§ It can be used to increase the effective height of existing flood banks, with no additional soil or land is required;

§ An impermeable membrane secured in the ground trench minimises water seepage below and bridges any the gaps between the barrier units.

§ It is designed to suit required scale of protection (200 – 1000mm+)

§ It can form curves with a radius of about 40m to 50m

After rigorous testing at the Environment Agency’s facilities at Lea Marston lakes, the SELOC flood barrier is now ready for commercial application, and the project team are available to design and install the system for any public and private sector clients.

Steve Corbet, Technical Director at AECOM said, “For householders, businesses and owners of vulnerable infrastructure located in areas subject to flooding, the SELOC barrier will provide a quick, easy, low cost and durable flood protection system which will cause little disturbance to existing facilities and the landscape.”

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