HSI Services, Inc. has 20+ years of experience in water management

Types of Dams and How They Work

Types of Dams and How They Work

Types of Dams and How They Work

There are several types of dams, and each gets constructed based on usage. In the latest report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), there are over 90,000 dams in the United States. However, these dams have different structures and designs.

With over 90,000 dams in the U.S. with different designs and structures, it’s important to know how each dam design works before applying them for flood control. Click To Tweet

What are the different types of dams and how do they work?

A dam is a physical structure built to hold back flowing water and raise its level to form a reservoir. The water can then be used to generate hydroelectric power and irrigation. However, the various types of dams consist of different construction materials. Here are the various types of dams you’ll find in the United States.

  1. Diversion Dam
  2. Buttress Dam
  3. Embankment Dam
  4. Cofferdam
  5. Storage Dam
  6. Detention Dam
  7. Gravity Dam

1) Diversion Dam

As the name suggests, diversion dams are built to change the direction of flowing water. The dams divert water into canals, ditches, and other channels. Unlike many types of dams, diversion dams are lower in heights with smaller water storage capacities.

2) Buttress Dam

Buttress dams consist of sloping watertight decks supported by intervals of buttresses on the downstream side. There are three forms of buttress dams, including the deck type, multiple arch type, and massive head type. However, the dam uses less concrete since the upstream part is a relatively thin flat slab. 

3) Embankment Dam

An embankment dam is constructed using industrial waste materials or excavated natural materials, like compacted earth materials. Based on the material used during construction, there are three main embankment dams: the earth dam, hydraulic fill dam, and the rockfill dam.

4) Cofferdam

Unlike other dams, a cofferdam is a portable dam used to hold water temporarily during shoreline restoration, bridge repair, pipeline installation, and other dewatering projects. You’ll use the cofferdam to close the construction area to maintain a dry work site. It’s more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional sandbags.

Pro Tip: The robust Aqua-Barrier® Inflatable Cofferdam is made from industrial-grade vinyl-coated polyester that is ideal for usage on all terrains and conditions. 

5) Storage Dam

As the name suggests, these dams are primarily constructed to store water during rainy seasons. These dams can also keep water for local wildlife, irrigation, and hydroelectric power generation. Storage dams are the most common types in the United States.

6) Detention Dam

A detention dam is specifically built to control flooding by catching surface runoffs and stream waters. It retains water in a reservoir to regulate the flow of water downstream, reducing flash floods. The stored water can then get released gradually.

7) Gravity Dam

A gravity dam is a massive, human-made concrete dam constructed to hold large volumes of water. It relies on the internal strength and weight for stability. So, builders have to use heavy concrete to resist the horizontal thrust of the water held back.

Choosing the Right Dam to Protect Your Business

There are various types of dams in the United States, with varying construction designs and uses. Thankfully, the barriers play significant roles in controlling floods and providing water for irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, fishing, bathing, and drinking.

Connect with us to learn more types of dams, including the masonry dam.

Successfully Using an Inflatable Cofferdam: 5 Essential Factors

Successfully Using an Inflatable Cofferdam: 5 Essential Factors

An inflatable cofferdam offers an efficient and effective way of controlling invasive water during floods. So, if you’re running a project that requires dewatering solutions, consider the inflatable cofferdam. We’ll show you how to use it. Keep reading to learn more!

Inflatable, portable cofferdams offer ease of flooding prevention in a number of work sites. Keep these essential factors in mind for successful coverage. #AquaBarrier Click To Tweet

What are the steps to using an inflatable cofferdam?

Inflatable cofferdams have several applications. In most cases, it provides access to underwater areas during construction and maintenance. You can also use it for hazardous liquid containment and sediment retention in a sensitive work area.

Here are the factors to consider when using a cofferdam for dewatering solutions.

  1. Understanding Water Levels 
  2. Obtaining Necessary Permits
  3. Hiring Experienced Contractors
  4. Removing Debris From The Site
  5. Determining the Type of Installation

1) Understanding the Water Levels

Water levels usually fluctuate from season to season. So, you need to review the timing of your project and plan accordingly. Consult the U.S. Geological Survey to figure out fluctuations in water level at the site and determine the best timing.

2) Obtaining Necessary Permits

Some of the essential permits you’ll need for a cofferdam project include contamination concerns, turbidity requirements, right-of-way restrictions, and time constraint permits. Thankfully, a project engineer can help you get the permits for dewatering solutions.

3) Hiring Experienced Contractors 

Working with a contractor who has experience in dewatering construction can help you save time and money. Such contractors know what to do when invasive water floods the work area. Typically, they will deploy a water-inflated flood barrier for flood protection.

Pro Tip: It’s worth knowing the product specifications and making sure you meet dam size requirements before implementing the inflatable cofferdam. 

4) Removing Debris From The Site

It’s imperative to remove all the surface debris that can puncture the water barrier’s plastic membrane. Ensure that the area you’ll install the flood barrier is free of sharp rocks, stumps, and rebar. If you don’t remove the debris, the following might happen:

  • Inability to keep the water barrier inflated if there’s a large puncture
  • Loss of inflation due to the small leaks in the barrier
  • Reduced stability of the flood barrier

5) Determining the Type of Installation

There are three basic water barrier installation types, including dry surface installations, static-water installations, and dynamic water installations.

  • Dry Surface Installation: The barriers get deployed in areas with no water in anticipation of flooding. You’ll simply roll the barriers and inflate them.
  • Static-Water Installation: The barriers get installed in areas with non-moving water. The barriers float on the water’s surface during installation.
  • Dynamic Water Installation: Water barriers get positioned on moving water by controlling the units’ ends using hydraulic equipment.

The Correct Way to Use an Inflatable Cofferdam

An inflatable cofferdam is an excellent alternative to a sheet pile. The inflatable dams are environment-friendly, cost-effective, and highly-efficient in controlling floodwaters. All you should do is consider the five factors discussed when considering a cofferdam.

Contact us to learn more about effective dewatering solutions in your project.

What Are Water-Filled Dams and How Do They Work?

What Are Water-Filled Dams and How Do They Work?

The process of dewatering worksites has been part of the construction industry for decades. Since it’s such a crucial part of building various structures, the process of dewatering and technology innovations have improved with time. One of the more recent professional improvements and arguably one of the better ones was the introduction of water-filled dams, otherwise known as inflatable cofferdams.

Not sure how a water-filled construction dam is designed to work? Find the engineering details here. #HSIServices #AquaBarrier Click To Tweet

Inflatable cofferdams eliminate extra work, waste, and time that would otherwise be required to remove water from the worksite. They also provide far more effective protection against remaining water than typical construction dams are known to. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly makes up a water-inflated dam and how it works so well.

Anatomy of the Aqua-Barrier

The Aqua-Barrier consists of two large chambers separated by an internal baffle. As the chambers are pumped full of water from the construction site, the baffle begins to experience more pressure on the opposite side from the remaining water. This forces the baffle to lean forward at about a 45-degree angle to the ground, facing the construction site and creating a watertight seal along the bottom. While the Aqua-Barrier’s baffle does require some exposure above the water to prevent runoff, the internal balancing system is proven to work very well in a variety of conditions.

Pro Tip: Watch a cofferdam in action with AquaComp, our free computer program to help you find the Aqua-Barrier your construction site needs!

Installing an Inflatable Cofferdam

During construction projects near water, you’ll be dealing with either stationary water or a slight current. The Aqua-Barrier works in both, but both circumstances require slightly different installation. At its most basic, a moving water installation requires lowering the deflated Aqua-Barrier into the water from above using heavy equipment. A standing water installation, on the other hand, allows the crew to simply unroll the cofferdam at the desired location in the water. Visit our information pages on proper installation for more details.

How to Get One

We offer cofferdams for sale as a permanent addition to your toolbox. However, we also offer rental services for onetime projects or companies interested in taking our equipment for a trial run before purchasing. Contact us to start the process of finding the right Aqua-Barrier size and type for your project.

An Excellent Engineering Advancement

To the construction industry, few things matter more than safety. When it comes to construction near the water, safety is even more crucial as worksites need flood protection and dewatering constantly. That’s just one of many reasons why water-filled dams, and the Aqua-Barrier in particular, are such excellent inventions for the construction field.

Join the conversation to learn more about our water-filled dams and other construction safety products.

Dewatering 101: Complete Guide to Cofferdams

Dewatering 101: Complete Guide to Cofferdams

Caissons, cofferdams, inflatable water dams–what are these terms and how do they relate to your construction project? To stay ahead in your construction progress and successfully complete your work, having a dewatering solution is key. Get the inside look of one of the best inventions in water construction with our guide to cofferdams. 

Learn everything you need to know about construction cofferdams with this complete guide to prepare your worksites! Click To Tweet

If you’re having to repair a bridge, water is a large factor in your project. Without a way to control water currents or flooding, the quality and safety of your worksite could be in danger. The process of dewatering has experienced many advancements throughout the years. With the modern cofferdam, construction crews don’t have to worry about flooding or soil erosion in their water-based projects.

What are Cofferdams?

Dating back to the days of Persia in 539 B.C., cofferdams have been used in construction for centuries. Cofferdams are watertight enclosures that are temporarily placed in bodies of water to create dry worksites. Today’s cofferdam may be designed with different materials, but the goal is the same: control water flow. Whether you’re building near water or preparing for a flood, cofferdams are a great alternative to sandbags.  

Pro Tip: Stop spending a fortune on one-time use cofferdams. Invest in an Aqua-Barrier, the redesigned water control solution that can be reused.

Types of Cofferdams

Depending on the building project, there are different types of cofferdams to consider. Braced cofferdams are designed with single-walled steel sheet piles driven into the water, and cellular cofferdams have double-walled piles that may be filled with clay or sand. Inflatable water dams, in contrast, are made of vinyl material and use the water to create a barrier. Depending on the variable of the specific construction project, the appropriate type of cofferdam may vary from project to project.

Construction Applications

Unlike caissons that are installed permanently in water, cofferdams are temporary structures that allow for new construction or maintenance repair. Cofferdams give construction crews the ability to perform their job without water getting in the way. The most common construction applications include:

Best Tool for Water Construction Sites

In construction, water can wreck a project without warning. For construction sites found near bodies of water, it’s crucial to be one step ahead of water damage. Compared to sheet pile cofferdams used in the past, inflatable dams offer a number of advantages for your water projects. If you’re looking for a dewatering solution that can be easily reused, transported, and installed, look no further than the AquaBarrier cofferdam.

Connect with our team to learn more about cofferdams, cofferdam design, and the wide range of cofferdam applications.

Caisson vs. Cofferdam: What’s the Difference?

Caisson vs. Cofferdam: What’s the Difference?

When building a bridge or any other structure in water, a dewatering solution is crucial to completing the project successfully. All dewatering methods are essentially the same, specifically to create a dry work environment. There are, however, differences to note when examining a caisson vs. cofferdam. Becoming familiar with these terms will help you and your team choose the best solution for your next project.

Ever heard of a caisson? As much as it might sound like a cofferdam, understanding the differences is crucial for your next project. Learn more here. Click To Tweet

Yes, there really is a difference between caissons and cofferdams. While construction novices may use the terms interchangeably, each has unique characteristics. Knowing the differences and how they apply to your construction project will ultimately improve the success of your project.

Caisson vs. Cofferdam: What's the Difference?, AquaBarrier, Houston, TX

Defining Caissons

A caisson is a box-like structure that is permanently fixed within the water table of engineering projects. They are primarily used in the construction of bridges, piers, or similar structures. Depending on the size and scope of the project, there are three different caissons used most commonly.

  1. Open Caissons – Timber, steel, or concrete box that is open at the top and bottom of the structure. The walls are generally heavy and pumped with reinforced concrete to ensure a dry area.
  2. Box Caissons – Watertight boxes usually composed of timber or concrete that are open at the top. They are generally floated to the specific area and then sunk into place with a masonry pier. 
  3. Pneumatic Caissons – Primarily used in underwater construction, these boxes are closed at the top and open at the bottom. Water is pushed out during the sinking process by using compressed air.

Defining Cofferdams

In comparison, cofferdams are temporary structures that are installed to divert water away from worksites. Cofferdams are most commonly used in new construction works or short-term maintenance projects of shallow bridges, piers, or boat ramps. Traditional cofferdams are filled with concrete or rock to restrict nearby water or river flow. Comparatively, inflatable cofferdams use water pumps to inflate themselves and create a temporary dam.

Pro Tip: AquaBarrier cofferdams are not only environmentally-friendly but easy to install. Save time and money by choosing a dewatering solution that your whole crew can use.

Caisson vs. Cofferdam

Not all building projects are created equal. With that being said, where a cofferdam could be installed, a caisson may not be applicable. Both caissons and cofferdams are watertight structures that can be used in the construction of submerged water areas.

The difference, however, lies within the scope of the project. Caissons are permanent structures found in the initial design construction, whereas cofferdams are temporary structures installed for necessary repairs or maintenance.

Solutions for Your Work Area

Are you building a bridge or pier near a large body of water? Do you have a preferred dewatering solution? High water levels could impede your project’s timeline so it’s crucial to prepare your worksite in advance. Whether it’s a caisson or cofferdam, choose the right water control solution for your next project.

Connect with our experienced sales team to learn why the AquaBarrier inflatable water dam is an excellent alternative to traditional cofferdams.

Top 5 Uses of Cofferdams: Highlighting Inflatable Dams

Top 5 Uses of Cofferdams: Highlighting Inflatable Dams

Understanding the history of cofferdams directly relates to how dewatering solutions are used today. From bridges to canals, the introduction of cofferdams in construction provided a solution for building structures near large depths of water. With the varied uses of cofferdams, we now have the ability to create dry worksites quickly and efficiently for any construction project.

Building a bridge? Repairing a pool? See how the #AquaBarrier inflatable cofferdam can help you create the dry area needed for construction. Click To Tweet

Top Uses for an Inflatable Cofferdam

If you’re building or handling equipment near a body of water, it’s crucial for you to control the flow and location of the water. Without a proper dewatering tool, your worksite could suffer from erosion, damage, and in severe cases, complete destruction. Cofferdams can be used in a number of applications, but the following five are some of the most common in construction.

  1. Bridges
  2. Pipelines
  3. Boat Ramps
  4. Pool & Waterpark Maintenance
  5. Canals/Culverts

1) Bridges

Despite the force of water currents, cofferdams have been used quite often in the construction of bridges. By establishing an enclosed area within the water, builders can build or repair the road connection without fear of flooding.

2) Pipelines

Digging underground to install large pipelines can create a myriad of issues, but water doesn’t have to be one of them. With a cofferdam, you can create a secure single wall against water from the ground up. Whether you’re installing a new pipeline or repairing an existing line, the cofferdam is a perfect solution for keeping water at bay.

3) Boat Ramps

When building a boat ramp, there’s a great need for removing water from the site location. Cofferdams can be used to create a dry worksite to fit the needs of your project. Inflatable cofferdams are an excellent solution for flood protection.

Pro Tip: Save time and money by using an Aqua-Barrier Inflatable Dam for your next boat ramp project, with the capability to work in water up to 6 feet deep.

4) Pool & Waterpark Maintenance

To save time and conserve water, a temporary cofferdam is a great solution for pool or waterpark repairs. AquaBarrier, in particular, is a water-filled cofferdam that is installed in your pool to create a dry work area without having to drain any water.

5) Canals/Culverts

Unlike most construction projects, canals and culverts are designed with water control in mind. That being said, necessary repairs on culvert concrete or surrounding areas can be weakened if the water isn’t routed in another direction. Cofferdams provide a way for construction workers to get their job done without having to worry about water getting in the way.

Dewatering Solutions Designed for You

Compared to doubled walled cofferdams or rock-filled sheet piles driven into the ground, the AquaBarrier is an affordable solution for projects requiring dewatering. With various dimension sizes and easy handling, it is a water control solution recommended in many construction applications.

Do you need a dewatering solution? Connect with our sales associates to customize an inflatable cofferdam for your next project.