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Tired of repeatedly piling sandbags along the Van Duzen River to protect his community in Humboldt County, Calif., David Doolaege has come up with a totally new way to prevent flood damage and erosion.  This "tool to conduct an efficient flood fight" began with David and his brother Craig "playing with water balloons," first by damming the bathtub, "then the creek," recalls David, "and finally the Van Duzen River."
    Water Controlling Water™ is the principle on which Doolaege's patented Water Structure® system is built.
    Two polyethylene tubes, contained by an outer woven geotextile master tube, are pumped full of water simultaneously. Counter friction between the master and inner tubes results in a stable, non-rolling wall of water that adjusts automatically to the land surface as the Water Structure® deploys to form an impervious, solid dam.  The dual inner tube design resists rolling when water pressure is applied to one side.

    Installation is quick and easy- 95% faster than sandbagging- and 90% less expensive than conventional labor methods.  A crew of three using two portable pumps can install a 3 foot high by 100 foot long Water Structure® every hour.


    Normally a foot to 10 feet high, water Structures adapt to any terrain, and can be made to order. A 6-inch Water Structure® can control erosion on a construction site. When completely filled, a four-foot high by 10-foot wide by 100-foot long structure holds 25,000 gallons of water and weighs over 100 tons. Keuka Hydro (New York) used a 4-foot high by 150-foot long Water Structure® to control erosion and dewater the work area when they pumped water from under their power station on Keuka Lake so repairs could be made. Empty, the 48-inch high, 12-foot wide "sausage" weighed 325 pounds. Filled with water, it weighed 195,000 pounds.
    At $6,000 the cost compared well with the $27,000 estimate for an earthen dam, which project engineer Jim Conners told the Dundee Observer "would have had a terrible impact on the wildlife."  A project in Ketchum, Idaho, used a 4-foot and a 3-foot high Water Structure® to divert the entire Big Wood River so a 350-foot section of riprap could be rebuilt. "The original riprap failed because it had been built in flowing water," said Steve Fisher, the aquatic biologist managing the project. "We also used the Water Structure® to trap muddy water flowing from the site." When a job is complete, the Water Structure® is drained, rolled up on spindles and stored for reuse- Fisher reports using "a couple of units three or four times."  Because they are classified as "water filled bladders," the Corps of Engineers recognizes the structures as containing no residual or solid fill materials to be discharged into streams or rivers, thus putting them in complete compliance with section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

    In late April (of 1997), Doolaege was installing Water Structures® (snakes as the residents call them) around multimillion dollar homes along Big Wood River in Sun Valley, Idaho.  With a 200% snow pack in the mountains and rain falling, these homes were bracing for a sheet flooding of "a couple feet," said Doolaege.  Since a homeowner first called Doolaege five years ago, many homeowners have purchased their own Water Structure customized to fit around the property's trees, shrubs, and shoreline. They're stored when not in use.  "They like the way they look," said Doolaege, "and they really appreciate the fact that we don't need dump trucks and excavators to install them - just a couple of men and portable pumps for a few hours."
    A wheelchair-bound homeowner a few hours away in Boise protects his home with customized snakes to allow him to stay there while his neighbors move to escape floods.  "Water Structures® are a really preventative tool for flood damage," says Doolaege, "especially when you contrast $45,000 worth of damage to a home with the $6,000 it would have cost to install Water Structures."
    "Ideal for preventing overtopping of levees - the number one cause of levee failure," Doolaege points out Water Structures® can also corral the water after a flood so it can be pumped out.  Now being used throughout this county and in Europe, Canada, and South Africa, Water Structures® has revolutionized flood control and introduced a new technology to prevent erosion.  Contact David or Craig Doolaege, Water Structures® Unlimited, P.O. Box 206, Carlotta, CA 95528, or call them at 1-800-693-5055, fax: 1-707-768-2116.