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Publication numberUS3213628 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 26, 1965
Filing dateAug 11, 1960
Priority dateAug 11, 1960
Publication numberUS 3213628 A, US 3213628A, US-A-3213628, US3213628 A, US3213628A
InventorsSerota Herman M
Original AssigneeSerota Herman M
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Water filled plastic dam structure
US 3213628 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Oct. 26, 1965 H. M. SEROTA 3,

WATER FILLED PLASTIC DAM STRUCTURE Filed Aug. 11, 1960 2 Sheets-Sheet l TOR.

oct. 26, 1965 sERo 3,213,628


United States Patent 3,213,628 WATER FILLED PLASTIC DAM STRUCTURE Herman M. Serota, 55 E. Washington St, Cook County, 111. Filed Aug. 11, 1960, Ser. No. 48,910 4 Claims. (Cl. 61-39) This application relates to structures which are characterized by plastic forms filled with water.

Numerous geographic areas are subjected to recurring floods yet over the years no completely satisfactory temporary flood control means has been devised. It is to this particular problem to which this invention is primarily directed; however, as will be seen, the application is not limited thereto.

In many of these geographic areas which are subjected periodically to flood conditions, it has been common to alleviate the problem by constructing permanent dam structures at strategic locations. However, even these are not completely satisfactory; and frequently temporary measures, such as the erection of temporary dam structures utilizing sand bags, are resorted to for supplementing the permanent dam structures. The use of sand bags is inconvenient since sand is uusually not available at the site where the temporary dam is to be erected and since the sand must usually be disposed of after the flood waters subside. Due to the great bulk and weight of the sand bags, considerable amounts of time are required for setting up the temporary dam structure, and many workmen are required.

Accordingly, it is the primary object of the present invention to provide an improved method and means for providing a temporary dam structure. In the present invention, this is achieved by the simple expedient of utilizing that which is always available as the flood waters rise; that is, water. In the preferred embodiment, the water is introduced into thin-walled plastic bags or containers which preferably are rectangular parallelepipeds for convenient piling of the bags in horizontal and vertical rows. Since the plastic bags, when emptied, are compact and light weight, and since the water filling the bags is easily disposed of, no significant storage or transportation problem arises.

A more specific object of the present invention is therefore the provision of a temporary dam formed of a wall of water-filled plastic containers.

Another object of the present invention is the provision of a double wall dam structure of water-filled plastic bags with a sheet of plastic positioned vertically between the walls to more eifectively prevent leakage through the structure.

Another object of the present invention is the provision of temporary dwelling structures such as tents or igloos formed of a double-walled plastic structure forming a thin sealed chamber filled with water.

Another object of the present invention is the provision of a gene-rally annular caisson formed of two spaced and sealed plastic walls filled with Water.

Other objects and the various features of the invention will be apparent upon a perusal of the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred form of plastic container filled with water for use in forming a temporary dam according to the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the plastic container of FIG. 1 in its collapsed condition with the water removed;

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of an improved dam structure formed by plastic containers filled with water;


FIG. 4 is a sectional elevational view of the improved dam structure substantially along the line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an improved igloo made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a sectional elevati-onal view of the igloo substantially along the line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an improved tent formed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a sectional elevational view of the improved tent substantially along line 8-8 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an improved caisson made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention; and

FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective View of a modification of the dam structure of FIG. 3 in which the plastic bags in adjacent horizontal rows are staggered with respect to each other and in which two walls are formed with a sheet of plastic therebetween.

The improved temporary dam structure of FIG. 3 comprises a plurality of containers placed one on top of the other in aligned and abutting vertical rows, each of the containers 20 preferably being in the order of 10" high, 18" wide, and 18" deep. The upstream wall 21 of each container is provided with a suitable inlet check valve 22 and a manually operable outlet valve 24; the inlet valve 22 preferably being located adjacent the top of the container and the outlet valve 24 adjacent the bottom for gravity emptying of the container.

When filled with water, the containers are very heavyfor example, approximately 115 pounds with the dimensions described aboveand the containers present a relatively stable structure without additional support means, especially Where the height of the dam structure is not unusually high, as is the case in most improvised dam structures in flooded areas.

In the construction of high dam structures, additional support means is desirable. Thus the upstream and downstream walls of the containers 20 are provided with tabs 26 and 2S, and, in their assembled positions in the improved dam structure, the containers are assured greater stability by means of ropes or guy wires 30 suitably anchored in the adjacent terrain and secured to the tabs 26 or 28 of the top row of containers. Other ropes or guy Wires 31 are anchored at one end 35 to the terrain adjacent the upstream edge of the lowermost containers, are received through vertically aligned tabs 26, and are anchored again at their opposite ends 37 at positions upstream of the containers. In some instances ropes or guy wires, such as 32, are anchored to the terrain at one side of the darn structure and are laced in a generally sawtooth pattern through horizontally adjacent bags for anchoring their opposite ends to the terrain at the opposite side of the darn structure to provide additional support for the central portion of the dam against the force of the water backed up behind and acting on the dam; whereas other ropes or guy wires, such as 34, are anchored to the terrain upstream of the containers and are passed through the tabs 26 and 28 and over the top of the uppermost containers, and are then anchored in to the ground downstream of the dam structure to enhance the stability of the temporary dam structure. The sides of the containers may also include tabs 40 for anchoring the vertical rows of bags to the ground below the lowermost containers. The guy wire fastening assemblies are shown by way of example, and various other anchoring techniques may be used without departing from the spirit of the invention.

In the construction of the darn, the containers in the lowermost row 42 are located one beside the other at the lowest point in the terrain; and these containers are then partially filled so that their upper surfaces 44 form a substantially continuous surface in a horizontal plane and conform to the contour of the terrain since, as will be described later, the bags are preferably made of a thin plastic film. The next succeeding row of containers 46 is then placed upon both the adjacent terrain and the lower row of containers, and these containers are similarly filled with water until they form a substantially horizontal upper surface 48. In a similar manner, succeeding horizontal rows of containers are placed one above the other and filled until the entire gap in the terrain is closed as shown in FIG. 3, with the endmost containers conforming to the exact shape of the terrain across which the dam is built.

In filling the containers, a water pump (not shown) having a suitable coupling is attached to each of the inlet valve connections 22 and the pump is operated to fill the container, either partially or fully, depending upon its particular position in the dam structure. Upon filling of the container, the pump is disconnected from one container for attachment to the next. Since it is common in areas which are periodically flooded to encounter a slowly rising water level, water will be present for use with the pump in filling the containers, and therefore no transportation of a filler, such as is necessary in sand bags, is required.

In removing the dam structure subsequent to the termination of the flood conditions, the valves 24 of each of the containers are opened and the water drains out under the force of gravity. The empty containers may be collected and arranged for storage.

In the preferred embodiment, the containers 20 are formed of a suitabe plastic material which, when used with thin wall thicknesses, has high tensile strength and high yield points, yet which will conform to the shape of an irregular terrain. For example, a highly durable, transparent, water repellent film of polyethylene terephthalate resin, such as that sold by E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company under the trademark Mylar, is preferably used. This particular polyester has outstanding strength characteristics as well as chemical inertness and thermal stability, and is particularly characterized by a tensile strength in the order of 20,000 p.s.i. in one mil sheets. It is desirable, however, to use a heavier gauge Mylar brand of polyester in the order of 10 mils for greater durability and improved life charactertistics and, in many instances, to use the more recently introduced laminated Mylar brand polyester films which are especially adapted for outside use under adverse environmental conditions. The same material is also preferably used in the embodiments of FIGS. 5-9.

With particular reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, it will be appreciated that the containers 20 may be arranged in alignment in vertical rows or stacks, with the opposing faces of vertically adjacent containers permanently fixed to each other by means of suitable adhesives. When this is done, it will be possible to assemble the dam structure more rapidly by laying the prefabricated or preassembled vertical stacks one at a time in horizontally abutting relation and then filling the bags individually as described above. This is especially advantageous where the same dam structure is made for use year after year in the same location, the vertical stacks of containers being suitably marked in accordance with the particular position they are to assume in a dam structure having an irregular height, such as that shown in FIG. 3. It may be desirable in some instances to bond the containers in horizontal rows to facilitate more rapid assembly of a dam structure.

In the modification shown in FIG. 10, the containers 20 in each horizontal row are arranged in staggered relation with the bags above and below them, and the dam structure comprises two adjacent parallel walls formed of water-filled containers 20 having a sheet of Mylar brand polyester film confined between the adjacent walls more adequately to protect against seepage through the dam. This construction is preferred in larger dam structures which are subjected to higher forces by the rising flood waters, and ropes and guy wires are preferably used to afford greater stability as in the embodiment of FIG. 3.

It will be noted with regard to both embodiments that the significant inherent stability of the improved darn structure is, to a great extent, accounted for by the heavy weight of the water within the containers and that the weight of the water in the containers acting on the succeeding lower horizontal rows of containers will produce a pressure as great as, or greater than, the pressure of the flood water acting on the upstream ends of the bags. The water in a vertical stack of containers produces a static pressure which increases in a well known manner in accordance with the depth of the water measured from the upper surface of the top horizontal row of containers. When the level of the flood waters is as high as the upper surfaces of the top row of containers 20, then the water pressure acting on the downstream sides of the containers will be substantially the same as the internal pressure in the containers; and when the flood water level is not as high as the upper surface of the top row of containers 20, the external pressure of the flood waters acting on the containers will not be as great as the internal pressure in the containers.

This feature is of considerable importance in the event of a puncture or leak in an upstream wall of a submerged container. If the internal and external pressures are equal, the container will remain inflated, and if the internal pressure is greater than the external pressure, the loss of water from the container will be in the upstream direction, the higher containers in FIG. 3 settling down to fill the space left by the fully or partially evacuated damaged container. Of importance is the fact that the damage container is evacuated only to the extent that the containers above it settle to fill the evacuated space. The downstream walls of the containers are not normally subjected to sharp blows by debris and the like.

FIGS. 5 and 6 show an igloo construction made in accordance with the teachings of the present invention. The igloo has a generally hemispherical thin wall 60 comprising a pair of adjacent hemispherical films of plastic 62 and 64 joined at their lower ends by a horizontal annular strip 66 and having internal ribs 67 connecting the films 62 and 64. A suitable inlet check valve 68 and an outlet valve 70 are provided on the wall 60, and the space 72 between the plastic films 62 and 64 is filled with water by means of a suitable hand-operated pump (not shown) adapted for connection with the check valve, the ribs 67 preventing separation of the films 62 and 64 beyond a short radial distance, for example, in the order of /s. It is important that the space 72 be completely filled with water in order to assure movement of the wall 60 from a collapsed condition to a self-supporting igloo configuration. A suitable door structure 74 is provided which, for simplicity, may be simply a flap of plastic material.

Similarly, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, a tent may be fabricated in accordance with the teachings of the present invention including sides 82 and 84 which are disposed at an angle to each other in a conventional manner. The sides 82 and 84 are formed of two adjacent plastic films 86 and 88 which are joined at their front and rear ends by strips 83 and 85, and at their lower ends by strips 90 and 92 and internally by ribs 93; and a narrow chamber 94 between the adjacent films 86 and 88 is filled with water by way of a suitable inlet check valve 96. Water is drained from the chamber 94 by means of an outlet valve 98. Triangular flaps, such as 99, of any suitable material provide a door structure for access to the tent enclosure. A triangular sheet of plastic film 97 closes the rear portion of the tent.

The weight of the water-filled temporary shelters of FIGS. 5 to 8 will be advantageous for maintaining stabili y of the structures in comparison with that experienced,

for example, by air-filled structures; and, at the same time, they are less subject to the loss of water than is the corresponding air-filled structure subject to the loss of air which is maintained at a superamospheric pressure. It Will be appreciated that temporary shelters of this type are normally used in areas where there is a readily available supply of water.

Another important advantage of these improved shelters of FIGS. 58 lies in their use in frigid temperatures in which, subsequent to filling of the spaces 72 and 94 with water, the water will freeze to provide a relatively durable semi-permanent structure. This semi-permanent structure may alternately be used as a shell around which a thicker shelter-for example, of snow-may be built. As in the dam structures, the preferred material used in these shelters is polyethylene terephthalate resin having a thickness, for example, in the order of l to mils, whereby the shelters may be very compactly stored prior to being filled with water.

A caisson 100 shown in FIG. 9 comprises a pair of spaced cylindrical plastic films 102 and 104 connected at their upper and lower ends by fiat annular films, such as 196; and an inlet check valve 108 and an outlet valve 110 are provided. The caisson films 102 and 104 are preferably connected by supporting ribs (not shown) similar to ribs 67 of FIG. 6, and the caisson becomes selfsupporting when its chamber, defined by the films 102, 104, and 106, is filled with Water.

While there has been described what is believed to be the preferred embodiments of the present invention, it will be appreciated that various changes and modifications may be made therein; and it is contemplated to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

I claim:

1. A compact portable darn structure for darn'ming the bed of a watercourse comprising a plurality of tough, thin wall plastic containers formed of polyethylene terephthalate resin film and each defining a rectangular sealed chamber, water inlet and outlet valve means for each chamber, the containers at least partially filled with water and positioned one upon another vertically and side by side in courses having horizontal top surfaces to form two parallel abutting walls, a sheet of plastic material confined between the walls preventing flow of Water therethrough, and means connected to the containers securing the containers in the courses together and securing the courses to each other and to the watercourse bed.

2. The dam structure of claim 1 in which vertically adjacent containers are positioned in horizontally staggered relation to each other.

3. A method of constructing a dam in a watercourse which comprises providing a plurality of tough, thin walled, rectangular plastic containers having substantially the water repelling, abrasion resistance and tensile strength characteristics of polyethylene terephthalate resin having valve means for admitting Water into and out of said containers, laying a first course of said containers across the lowermost level of the bed of the watercourse in abutting relation, filling said containers with water to the degree necessary to establish a horizontal top surface, the endmost of containers of said course being filled only to the extent where the top surfaces thereof meet the bed, laying a second sourse of unfilled containers on top of said first course in abutting relation and lapping over said first course onto the sides of the bed where the bed sides are divergent, filling the second cour-se of said containers with water to establish a horizontal upper surface thereof, the endmost of the containers of the second course being filled only to the extent to continue said horizontal surface to the bed sides and repeating the steps of adding additional courses and filling them to horizontal upper surfaces until a dam of the desired height is established.

4. The method as set forth in claim 3 including additionally the steps of anchoring the containers together and to the watercourse bed.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 303,128 8/84 Dean 61-4 511,472 12/93 Sumovski -1 1,075,128 10/13 Skinner 61-30 1,997,132 4/35 Collorio 61-31 2,051,926 8/36 Weiner 61-82 2,145,396 1/39 Kato 61-30 2,524,382 10/50 Goodman 61-82 2,623,565 12/52 Unthank -.5 2,649,101 8/53 Suits 135-1 2,690,778 10/54 Walsh 510-.5 2,696,235 12/54 Toffolon 150-.5 2,724,418 11/55 Krupp 150-.5 2,895,490 7/59 Dimond 135-1 2,990,837 7/61 Cushman 135-1 FOREIGN PATENTS 145,007 7/22 Great Britain. 551,098 11/56 Italy.

OTHER REFERENCES Construction Methods and Equipment (publication), of August 1959, page 216.

CHARLES E. OCONNELL, Primary Examiner.


EARL J. WITMER, Examiners.

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U.S. Classification405/111, 383/22, D25/19, 405/114, 220/62.21, 383/6, 52/2.19
International ClassificationE02B3/10, E04H15/20
Cooperative ClassificationE04H2015/205, E04H15/20, E02B3/108
European ClassificationE02B3/10B2, E04H15/20