How AquaDams can help in the British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
O ttawa National Wildlife Refuge
AquaDams are water-filled tubes that come in various heights and lengths. Multiple AquaDams can be connected to form miles of protection. The on site water is used to fill the AquaDam, using small pumps. A 3’ high AquaDam, 100’ long, can be installed in less than 30 minutes. AquaDams use the weight of the contained water to supply the mass and weight needed to seal the bottom of the AquaDam against the soils beneath it. This creates a water- and oil-tight barrier, called a cofferdam.
AquaDams are used at construction sites to dewater behind ( http://www.waterstructures.com/Construction/pictorials.html ).
Different sized AquaDams can be used, ranging from 1’ to 16’ high units, any length can be achieved using connection collars. AquaDam placement must be carefully considered when installing in a tidal zone. Installing too low in the tidal zone will cause the AquaDam to fail. The lower part of the tidal zone cannot be protected because the AquaDam will simply not be tall enough during high tidal events. Differently sized AquaDams are rated for different amounts of water retention. The highest of high tides, including wave action, must be below the water retention height of the AquaDam.
Mostly 3’ and 4’ high AquaDams would be used to protect marshes and wetlands, with larger AquaDams being used to block off drainage canals of the wetlands. The AquaDam will simply install over the top of wetland vegetation. This may damage the stem of the plant, but the roots and bulbs will stay intact, ready for regeneration once the AquaDam is removed. AquaDams have been used with great success in many national parks, including the Ottawa National Park, which I’m providing pictures of ( http://www.waterstructures.com/Construction/Ottawa-OH%20Wildlife%20Refuge%20part%202/ottowa-9-13-042.html ). Unrolling the AquaDam simply pushes down the vegetation in front of it. Laborers with machetes can help in this process.
Thousands of feet of AquaDam can be installed in one day. No heavy equipment is needed, only lightweight portable gas-powered water pumps. AquaDams can be floated into place during high tide, eliminating the need for lifting equipment. AquaDams are better at protecting wetlands than floating oil booms, which don’t work in the presence of wind/wave action, or rapid movement of the water column in the tidal zone. AquaDams are completely different than floating styrofoam filled booms.
Sand berms pushed up by heavy equipment leave a massive footprint that will be seen for decades to come. AquaDams leave virtually no permanent footprint, and soil isn’t disturbed during installation, making AquaDams the environmentally superior, environmentally friendly option. AquaDams can also be drained, relocated, and refilled for reuse. The only fill material used is the on-site water. Earthen or sandbag fills can become contaminated and may need be decontaminated or hauled offsite to an environmentally approved disposal site, costing a lot more money than an AquaDam, and requiring heavy equipment. AquaDams can be removed and disposed of if contaminated, or brought back to a facility to be decontaminated by washing for reuse.
2. What to do about oil-contaminated wetlands? AquaDams can be used to isolate the area from the greater wetlands area, to minimize further damage from oil contaminates. Then, there’s three main courses of action to clean or remediate the contaminated area. AquaDams philosophy is to use the on site water to do the work.
a. No action, everything dies, may take decades to recover by itself.
b. Oil recovery through isolation and water column agitation to resuspend oil off plant stems so it can be skimmed and recovered.
A watertight cofferdam can be made by using AquaDams to surround and seal the contaminated area. The contaminated area will be sealed and the oily water will not drain off at low tide, creating a pool of standing water. The standing water around the stems can be agitated so the oil will release from the stems and float on top of the water column, and can then be skimmed off similar to harvesting cranberrys. This will take longer than a tidal cycle, so it’s imperative that site is isolated from tidal action. Then you can do the remediation without worrying about the area being re-contaminated at the next high tide.
c. Isolate contaminated wetlands, drain, dry, and burn.
AquaDams are used to cofferdam/isolate contaminated areas so that the area dries out and then can be burnt, much like a rice field. The burning process will eliminate the oil plus all the contaminated vegetation (stems, leaves, etc). Wetlands vegetation consists mainly of bulb-type plants, which won’t be affected by the burning and will come back immediately. All the bulbs are underneath a thick mud layer. Get rid of the stems and the oil, and plant life will regenerate itself. Of course, the burn cannot touch the AquaDam.
AquaDams in use at Ottawa National Park can be seen on my website:
http://www.waterstructures.com/Construction/Ottawa-OH%20Wildlife%20Refuge/ott1.html http://www.waterstructures.com/Construction/Ottawa-OH%20Wildlife%20Refuge%20part%202/ottowa-9-13-042.html The AquaDams were used to turn a million year old mudflat into green vegetation in just 90 days. Water depth control over the site is the key to germinating new life. Terrestrial plant life will not start in standing water. Control of the water depth is everything. AquaDams makes this control possible.
d. AquaDams are great at storing contaminated water safely in wetlands. On site storage is the key. Thousands of locations throughout the wetlands of the Gulf are needed to attack the problem successfully.
It’s not practical to have skimmer boats everywhere, every day. A small portable pump sitting on top of an AquaDam, with a long hose can transfer the skimmed water into a AquaDam storage unit on site. Then a transport vessel will only be needed once the storage unit is full. There could be 10,000 storage units placed in the Gulf coast wetlands to store contaminated water. Trying to remove the skimmed oil from the site on a daily basis just isn’t practical, there’s too many sites to be serviced daily. Each tidal event will recontaminate any areas previously cleaned. Store the oily water on site until a transfer vessel routine can be worked out. Any sized AquaDam can be used for liquid storage. Little or no ground preparation is required. Here is a link to our price list for AquaDams:
3. Towing/Containing/Storing oily water in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s not practical to separate the oil from the water immediately. Containment is first, processing comes months or years later.
a. There are hundreds of ships in the Gulf of Mexico, but many do not have the capability to store oily water, which is mostly contaminated water. Instead, they drag booms around. Oil/water containment tubes can turn any vessel into a super-tanker for storage. Any size vessel can pull containment/storage tubes (millions of gallons of capacity) slowly through the waters of the Gulf. Underwater Containment/storage Tow-Tubes have an attachment point that keeps the mouth of the tube open. Shrimp boats can tow the skin of a double open-ended tube through the water, so that the water coming into the tube can also exit the tube, keeping it at its maximum diameter as it reaches the predetermined depth to capture underwater oily plumes (mostly water). Tubes are an inexpensive and economical way to capture the oil before it spreads out and reaches the surface.
T ow-Tube Construction
Tow-Tube in action As the oily water enters the mouth of the tube, the clean water is forced out the end of the tube. The oily water inside the tube has now displaced the clean water; both ends will be cinched using a free-floating cinch rope that is long enough to reach the top of the water column, or back to the vessel pulling the tube. By pulling on the cinch ropes, the two ends of the tube will collapse, sealing off the toxic oily water contained within the tube. Each end can slowly be brought to the surface and tied together.
Over time, the oil will separate from the water, rising to both ends of the containment tube, so that at a later date, the tubes contents can be processed and/or recovered. The excess water will be returned to the ocean.
b. An optional skimmer mouth attachment turns the large volume tube into a surface skimmer. The attachment is 4” high, so only the top 4” of water is collected into the tube, which, when full, can be stored and processed at a later date. Each tube, at a low speed, can be towed. This would be used for collecting the floating oil on top of the water column.
S kimmer Attachment, Tow-Tube sold separately These Tow-Tubes can also be adapted for use with any onsite skimming vessels. Any vessel can now be turned into a skimmer, and of course after the oily water is collected, it will be contained and ready for processing at a later date.
and the other end placed directly over and above the wellhead. The bottom end of the tube can be weighted and/or tied off to Deep Horizon wreckage/sunken barge/cement weight/nearby rock formations in at least 4 locations to keep the opening above the wellhead. The pressure from the wellhead will shoot the oil/gas straight up into an isolated water column created by the riser tube. Due to ocean currents, the tube may not be strictly vertical, so the tube may have to be miles longer to compensate for tube deflection caused by ocean currents. The end of the tube at the waters surface will have a metal flange several feet long, 16ga stainless steel surrounding the mouth of the tube, with attachment points for floats.
Pumps will pump the oily water from the interior of the riser tube into floating storage tubes, barges, or tankers, as detailed above. Oily water is then stored for later processing. Processing vessels separate the oil from the water, pumping the water back into the gulf, and the oil into nearby tanker ships for transport to refineries.
Diameter (ft) x Length (ft), mil (thickness), Material (Woven or Poly)
Gallons per 1 ft
Gallons per 100 ft
Gallons per Specified
26.5'x5280' (1 mile), 1 ply Woven
Surface Skimmer Attachment to fit opening of Tow-Tube: $35/ft, comes in various widths to match various