Floodwalls : Features, Types, Advantages & Disadvantages of Floodwalls

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Floodwalls may be defined as structures prepared of concrete that function as flood control barriers to control water from infiltrating buildings and other structures. These flood barriers assist in containing water from lakes, rivers, or other waterways if they rise to abnormal levels.

They are majorly designed as cantilever walls, basic I-walls, buttress walls, gravity walls, and sheet pile cells.


  1. Features of Floodwalls  

Floodwalls are engineered structures constructed from concrete, masonry, or steel to control the encroachment of floodwater. They are made primarily in urban/industrial areas where space is denied.


Features of Floodwalls


The main functions of a floodwall are:

a. Deliver a barrier against inundation

b. Protect the enclosing area and structure from hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads

c. Deflect flood-borne debris away from the building.

d. Most floodwalls are constructed at a distance from the building to avoid any structural defects or modifications.

e. The location and coverage of floodwalls vary based on the terrain.

f. Floodwalls covering the site have openings to deliver access to the site.





  2. Types of Floodwalls  

The primary types of floodwalls employed in flood protection projects and their construction elements are described in the table below:


a. Gravity Floodwalls 

The construction features of Gravity flood walls are as follows:

1. Simplest type of floodwall

2. Works based on gravity and self-weight.

3. Constructed at a right angle with the base of the wall larger and heavier than the top to hold on to the ground.

4. The floodwater discovers moving the heavy flood wall below the ground challenging.

5. Needs a lot of concrete for its construction.


Gravity Floodwalls


b. Inverted T-type Cantilever Floodwalls

The construction features of inverted T-type cantilever flood walls are as follows:

1. Less expensive to design and construct.

2. The cantilever of the floodwall is a projecting structure like a beam that is backed at one end and maintains a load at the other.

3. Stability is completed partially from the weight of the soil on the heel portion of the base of the T-type cantilever and its self-weight.

4. Majorly constructed from reinforced concrete.

5. The wall utilizes cantilever action to maintain the mass behind the wall.



c. I-Walls

The construction features of I-walls are as follows:

1. I-walls are cheaper than T-slabs as no base slab or cantilever is not required.

2. Sheet pile I-walls, modified I-walls, and Type II I-walls are some of the types of I-walls.




d. Buttress Floodwalls

The construction features of buttress flood walls are as follows:

1. Consist of a transverse support wall on the heel side.

2. The concrete buttress is on the retaining water’s opposite side.

3. It is not employed generally as the buttress takes the usable space.


Buttress Floodwalls


e. Counterfort Floodwalls

The construction features of Counterfort flood walls are as follows:

1. Consist of traverse support wall on the side of retaining water.

2. The supporting walls are hidden under water or soil, providing additional space on the other side.

3. Hence, it is utilized widely compared to buttress walls.


Counterfort Floodwalls





  3. Advantages of Floodwalls  

The advantages of flood walls are as follows:

a. Protects the area around the structure from inundation.

b. Eliminates structural damage to the building caused due to water pressure.

c. It is a better option compared to relocating or elevating.





  4. Disadvantages of Floodwalls  

The disadvantages of flood walls are as follows:

a. They are not a solution for large, long-duration floods.

b. They can affect the local drainage, resulting in water-related issues in the areas outside the floodwall.

c. The construction can violate some of the state codes and regulations.





  5. FAQs  

1. What are flood walls?

⇒ Flood walls are flood-control concrete structures designed to block water from rising and seeping into buildings and other structures.


2. What are the advantages of flood walls?

⇒ The main advantages of flood walls are:

1. It shields the area around the structure from inundation.

2. It destroys structural damage to the building generated due to water pressure.

3. It is a better option compared to relocating or elevating.


3. What are the types of flood walls?

⇒ The significant types of flood walls are:

1. Gravity flood walls

2. Cantilever flood walls

3. Buttress flood walls

4. Counterfort flood walls



  6. References  

1. Content Filter & Authenticity Checking Team, Dream Civil International

(Our team checks every content & detail to maintain quality.)




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