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Testing new flood-fighting techniques

Staff writers
August 16, 2012 — The University of Manitoba has a new facility that mimics waves. The goal is to help researchers better learn to fight floods.

The new Wave Breaker sandbags
The new Wave Breaker sandbags

It's a facility that could change the way Manitobans battle floods. 

Engineers at the University of Manitoba have created a 1,000-square-foot pool of water that will be used to recreate the intense waves. Those waves mimic those often seen during high winds on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. 

The man-made waves push water against specially-designed sandbags called Wave Breakers, created by Winnipeg company ITW Syn-Tex Bag.    

"Within this facility, the Syn-Tex Wave Breaker will be objectively tested and improved upon in order to develop a safe, reliable, and more economical alternative to traditional sandbag dikes," says Shawn Clark, Civil Engineering Researcher and Principal Investigator. 

The bags are more durable than traditional sandbags, which require several volunteers to set up. Wave Breakers can be installed faster and are more reliant to wave action and fast-moving debris. 

After destructive flood seasons like those of 1997 and 2011, researchers in Manitoba are looking for new ways to fight floods. Clark says this facility will help them with that. 

"This newly designed and constructed facility will allow individuals from ITW Syn-Tex, and researchers from the University of Manitoba, to continue the tradition of fighting Manitoba floods in a controlled environment," he says. 

Funding for the wave testing facility was cost-shared between the U of M and federal government.

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