Catastrophic flooding affects multiple communities around the globe every year, but after this year’s hurricane season, this natural disaster seems particularly relevant. Coastal regions, in particular, are often the victims of flooding caused by hurricanes and the surrounding ocean waters. However, it isn’t only coastal areas where flooding can happen.
Here’s a shocking fact: Since 1874, over one-third of all dam failures in the U.S. have occurred in the last 10 years.This is because urban infrastructure must be created or adapted to the drainage needs of the land, and U.S. infrastructure is quite literally crumbling.
Fortunately, the civil engineer services of low-lying countries such as England, the Netherlands, and Japan have created flood control technologies that may prove promising for the future. Here’s a quick primer on the ways civil engineers have designed flood control services throughout the 20th Century.
Structural design of the Thames Barrier
Civil engineer services in England developed the Thames Barrier between 1974 and 1984. The barrier is designed to be movable and is therefore made from hollow steel.
The water gates along the Thames River are typically left open to allow the passing of ships. However, when water levels begin to rise, the civil engineering structural design of the water gates allows them to swing shut.
This keeps water from flowing through and therefore the communities along the Thames safe. Since its finished construction in 1984, the barrier has been closed over 100 times.
The Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier
Civil engineer services are necessary for The Netherlands to combat against floodwaters. Up to 60% of the population currently lives below sea level. This places flood control systems near the top of essential developments for a civil engineering company.
One of The Netherlands’ civil engineering design firms is Deltawerken, or Delta Works. The company developed a series of storm surge barriers, locks, dikes, dams, and sluices between 1950 and 1997.
Among these flood barriers was the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier, which is made up of movable gates. Completed in 1986, the barrier reduced tidal height from 11.2 feet to 10.7 feet.
The Iwabuchi Floodgate
The Iwabuchi Floodgate began construction in 1924 after a catastrophic flood in Japan caused terrible damage to the lowlands in 1910. The floodgate was designed by Akira Aoyama, the civil engineer and architect who worked on the Panama Canal.
The project was eventually decommissioned in 1982. However, new locks driven by aqua-drive motors, which are controlled by water pressure, help to keep floodwaters away from the coastal regions as necessary.
Civil engineering design is necessary to protect coastal regions and communities prone to flooding safe from damage. However, before civil engineers can construct floodwater barriers for these communities, excessive planning and design must be developed first just as it is in transportation planning. This ensures the structures are not only sound but safe for the environment.