Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 10

Flexible Check Dam for

Watershed Management -
An Innovative
Application of
Technical Textile

Dr. M K Talukdar, Kusumgar Corporates Pvt Ltd, Mumbai

Dr. S K Chattopadhyay, CIRCOT, (ICAR), Mumbai
Mr. P R Roy Choudhury, IRMRA, Thane and
Dr. N Sahoo, DWM (ICAR), Bhubaneswar
2 www.technicaltextile.net

Flexible Check Dam for Watershed Management - An

Innovative Application of Technical Textile

Dr. M K Talukdar, Kusumgar Corporates Pvt Ltd, Mumbai

Dr. S K Chattopadhyay, CIRCOT, (ICAR), Mumbai
Mr. P R Roy Choudhury, IRMRA, Thane and
Dr. N Sahoo, DWM (ICAR), Bhubaneswar

A check dam is a small dam, which can be either a temporary or a permanent structure built
across a minor channel, swale, bios wale, or drainage ditch. Similar to drop structure in
purpose, it reduces erosion and gullying in the channel and allows sediments and pollutants to
settle. It also lowers the speed of water flow during storm events. Check dams can be built with
logs, stone, or sand bags. Of these, the former two are usually permanent or semi-permanent;
and the sandbag check dam is usually for temporary purposes. There are check dams also that
are constructed with rock fill or wooden boards. Check dams are usually used in small and open
channels that drain about 10 acres (0.040 km2) or less area, and usually do not exceed 0.60 m in
height. A view of conventional check dam is shown in Fig. 1

Indias first check dam, the Great Anicut (Kallanai in Tamil Language) was built by ancient Chola
King named Karikalan in the Kaveri River delta in Tamil Nadu around first century AD and
regarded as the worlds oldest water diversion structure still in use [1].


The main advantage of a check dam is that it

enables storing of water for use both during and
after the monsoon. It helps in ground water
recharging and raising of water table in the area.
Availability of water ensures increased crop yield
and, even multi-cropping thus enhancing the
agricultural productivity. Check dams can also be
used for pisciculture.
Fig. 1: Conventional check dam
3 www.technicaltextile.net


Installation of check dams may be appropriate in the following situations:

To promote sedimentation behind the dam thus preventing silting of the channel
To prevent soil erosion by reducing water flow velocity in the channel.
In small open channels those drain 10 acres or less cultivated area.
In steep channels where storm water runoff velocities exceed 1.5 m/s
During the establishment of grass linings in drainage, ditches or channels
In temporary ditches, where the short length of service does not warrant establishment of
erosion-resistant linings


Today, geo-textiles are used not only for erosion control in revetments, but also for reinforcement of
new or old dikes, dams, banks and dunes. They are also used for drainage, filters, impermeable
membrane cores, and for separation of layers of constructional material.

Flexible geo-dams, commonly known as rubber dams are a special group of geo-system. They are often
known as flexible inflated dams and are made from rubber-coated fabric composite which is strong and
durable, yet flexible to be rolled up for easy transportation. Flexible dam made of rubber was
developed in the 1950s and first installed on the Los Angeles River, California for the purpose of ground
water recharging and flood mitigation [2]. Flexible rubber dams made from inflatable geo-textiles are
secured to a channel bed and normally used for river regulation, flood protection, increase of reservoir
capacity for irrigation etc. The dam can be inflated by air or water, or by both. The rubber dam geo-
textiles are essentially composed of one or more layer of fabric substrate covered with layers of
elastomeric materials, such as rubber. In this R&D under the National Agricultural Innovation Project
(NAIP) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), it was planned to indigenously design and
develop suitable geo-textiles, flexible rubber composites and geo-system, and put them in use as check
dams for watershed management.

The main advantages of flexible rubber dams are their short construction period, easy maintenance and
repair, long span and adaptability to different slopes, low project cycle cost, earthquake resistant and
environmental friendliness. Problems associated with rubber dams are damage due to vandalism, flood
borne debris, deflation, abrasion and fire. The dam will experience some air loss because of rubber itself
being gas permeable. Factors such as cross-linking, punctures, imperfection in the connection and the
clamping system may also cause such loss [3]. There are more than 350 flexible rubber dams installed
worldwide including one big dam in India built based on foreign technology over Janjhavathi River in the
year 2006. However, in India, there is dearth of know-how on the design and fabrication of suitable
rubber-textile composite for making a flexible dam and its installation methodology.

For the first time in India, under the scope of the above project, rubber dams have been designed from
specially developed rubber-textile composites and the same being put into use for agricultural
application. The paper presents an account of this development.
4 www.technicaltextile.net

Based on an elaborate optimization trials as reported earlier [4], two fabrics with mockleno weave, one
from nylon 6 of nominal gsm ( grey) of 450 and the other from nylon 66 of nominal gsm (grey) of 550,
was selected for scale-up trials for rubber composite making. While making the fabric selection due
consideration was given to its tensile strength, bond-ability with rubber substrate, moisture regain
properties, trough-ability and dynamic fatigue characteristics.

Resorcinol Formaldehyde Latex (RFL) Treatment of Fabrics

The fabric samples were imparted RFL (Resorcinol Formaldehyde Latex) treatment for improving the
adhesion between the fabric substrate and the rubber matrix. The RFL adhesive formulation is shown in
Table 1. Required amount of sodium hydroxide was added to water so as to maintain pH in the range of
10.0 - 10.5, and the mixture was stirred until it dissolved completely within a period of 15-20 min.
Resorcinol formaldehyde condensate was then added to the alkaline water. Thereafter, required
amount of formaldehyde was added to the solution and stirred. After 20 min, Vinyl Pyridine (VP) latex
was added slowly to the resorcinol formaldehyde solution with moderate stirring. The fabrics were
immersed in RFL adhesive dipping solutions at room temperature according to one dip one nip method.
Thereafter, the fabrics were dried in a drying chamber at 1500 C for 2.5 min and cured in the same

Table 1: RFL Adhesive Formulation

Component Content (%)
Water 51.28
Sodium hydroxide 0.85
Resorcinol formaldehyde Condensate (50% solution) 4.62
Formaldehyde (37%) 2.22
VP latex (40% solids) 41.03

Rubberisation of Fabrics
The fabrics were rubberised using the ingredients given in Table 2.

Table 2: NR/ SBR Blend Cover Compound

Raw Material Content (kg) Raw Material Content (kg)
Natural Rubber IX 75 Aromatic Oil 10
SBR 1502 25 Wood Resin 5
Zinc Oxide 5 Antiozonant 1.0
Stearic Acid 1.5 CBS 1
TDQ 1 TMTD 0.1
4020 1 Sulphur 2
HAF N 330 60 Total 187.6
5 www.technicaltextile.net


The results are given in Table 3. The add-on of RFL coated fabrics were found 22.4% and 19.1%
respectively for Nylon 6 and Nylon 66 fabrics. The breaking strength and the elongation at break of the
treated fabric samples were found higher than those found with untreated fabric samples, both in warp
or weft direction. This is mainly due to increase in warp and weft densities of treated fabric samples
after the adhesive treatment.

Results shown in Table 3 also indicate that in general, the application of RFL coating tends to increase
the tensile strength of the coated substrates for both nylon 6 and nylon 66 substrates. The longitudinal
tension applied to the fabric during coating, mainly between the fabric roll and the point of coat
application stretches the warp threads resulting in their straightening out due to crimp interchange. The
yarns then get locked at the intersection point of warp and weft threads by the coating. Thus, the warp
yarns remain essentially in a plane against any longitudinally applied load and are able to support the
load in a better way yielding increased tensile strength. In addition to this, the heat used during the
setting process tends to shrink the weft, which in turn increases the warp densities resulting in further
higher tensile strength warp way.

The fabric elongation in the warp direction is expected to remain same as that of the yarn, but it has
been observed that elongation at break also increases (Table 3). This may be because all the warp crimp
may not have been removed and further, the possibility of yarn shrinkage during heat setting cannot be
ruled out. The situation is different in weft direction. On one hand the weft threads per unit area
remains the same after coating and on the other hand, the weft yarns became more crimped due to
shrinkage. These factors lead to marginally lower strength in weft way after the coating process.

The thickness of the RFL coated fabrics for both nylon 6 and nylon 66 fabrics were found to increase by
21.6% and 16.5% over their respective greige values. After RFL treatment, the stiffness of the fabrics
was found to increase considerably (Table 3).

Peel adhesion strength plays an important role in determining the ultimate performance of the rubber
composite. Its value should be more than 100 N/5 cm as calculated earlier from the present design
requirement. Results showed that the values obtained for peel strength for both nylon 6 and nylon 66
fabrics in the present study are much higher than the minimum requirement (Table 3).

Table 3: Test Results of Untreated and RFL Treated Fabrics

Sample No 1 2
Material Nylon 6 Nylon 66
Weave Mockleno Mockleno
Type of fabric Grey RFL coated % of increase Grey RFL coated % of increase
GSM 472 578 22.4 574 672 19.1
Breaking Warp 5745 8821 53.5 9206 11425 24.1
strength, N Weft 61.3 8720 11.3 8583 9326 8.66
Breaking Warp 22.4 35.9 60.3 25.1 31.6 25.9
elongation, % Weft 23.1 45.0 94.8 25.4 35.6 40.3
Thickness, mm 1.16 1.41 21.6 1.27 1.48 16.5
6 www.technicaltextile.net

Flexural Warp 1586 78144 4827 2075 75616 3544

rigidity, mg.cm Weft 1183 21672 1732 1852 33005 1682
Peel strength, Warp 170.7 132.4
N/cm Weft 132.4 176.6

Fig 2: Cross-section of rubber composite sheet

Table 4: Properties of Cover Compound

Physical Properties Unit CN6 Standard
Optimum Cure Time @ 160C min 6.4 -
Mooney Viscosity, ML1+4@100C MU 34 -
Mooney Scorch Time , t5@ 130C Min 7.5 -
100% Modulus MPa 3.3 -
200% Modulus MPa 7.3 -
300% Modulus MPa 12.7 -
Tensile Strength(Before Aging) MPa 22 121 Min
Elongation at Break % 500 450 Min
Hardness Shore A 50 605
Relative Volume Loss mm3 106 150 Max
Angle Tear(Before aging) Kg/cm 99 80 Min
Change in Tensile Strength (After air ageing)@70C/72hr) % -1.3 -20 Max
Change in Elongation at Break (After air ageing)@70C/72hr) % -16 -40 Max
Change in Hardness (After air ageing)@70C/72hr) Points 4 +8 Max
Compression set (@ 100C/72 hrs/ 25 % deflection) % 37 40 Max
Heat Build up C 64.7 -
Volume change after water ageing @ 70C / 72 hours % +3.2 + 10 Max
Ozone resistance (100 pphm/40C/96 hrs/ 20% strain) - No Cracks No Cracks
7 www.technicaltextile.net


A proto type rubber dam has been fabricated and installed at IRMRA, Thane. A cross section of
rubber-fabric composite is given in Fig 2. Particulars of proto type dam (PRD) are given below:

Rubber Composite Dimension: 1.5 m x 3.5 m and thickness 6 mm.

Dimension: 2.0 m length x 0.56 m width x 0.50 m height.

Cover Compound: Formulation of Rubber compound is given in Table 2, and their properties
with respect to standards are shown in Table 4.

Fabric: VP latex coated Nylon 66 and VP Latex coated nylon 6 (refer Table 3).

Moulding and Curing: The friction-calendared fabrics were placed in between the cover
compound, and then consolidated and moulded in a hydraulic press at 150oC for minutes in
step curing technique. Mould clamping pressure was maintained at 50 kg/cm2 of the mould

The prototype rubber dam model constructed in a channel made of MS metal (Fig 3) and the
system contains the components as shown in the Table 5.

Table 5: Components of prototype rubber dam (PRD)

Product Segment No Name Material Composition

1 Composite sheet Textile rubber composite
2 Base structure Metal fabricated
3 Anchoring system Designed
4 Inflation deflation mechanism Motorized pumping system
5 Toggle system Toggle with motorized pulley
8 www.technicaltextile.net


The following evaluation was carried out on proto type rubber dam:

The dam was filled with water partially, fully and

in over flow conditions. Its qualitative
performance was studied as follows:

1. Resistance to damage against impact of sharp

2. Regular wave fumes test
3. Resistance to puncture against cyclic inflation
and deflation

Sharp particles like broken glasses, bamboos,

wooden pieces etc., were used and allowed to
strike the PRD at varying velocities ranging from
0.5 to 5.0 m/s no visual damage or crack was
observed during the study.
Fig 3: Prototype Rubber Dam


Composite sheets of (6 x 10) m with 6 or 8 mm thickness were fabricated. Since the maximum width of
the moulded sheet was 1.5 m, four numbers of such sheets were joined using a cold curing method at
room temperature after splicing the edges with an angle of 45 cut. The overlap was kept at 50 mm. The
joining strength was tested and found to be of 80% of the original strength.

A flexible check dam has been installed at Bagamari (Khurda dist., Odisha) and it is functional now
(Fig.5). The evaluation of dam was made by measuring its height of inflation and deflation, and velocity
of flowing water in the channel as described below.

During the installation period, the dam was inflated to a height of 0.9 m by pumping water into the dam
body. Three months after the installation, there was no leakage of water found from the dam and the
height was noted to be the same as found during the installation period. In the month of July10, when it
rained heavily, the water level in the upstream side was increased to 2.5 m. To avoid inundation of
water in side lands and at the request of farmers, the dam height was reduced to 0.3 m through
deflation by opening the drain plug. Water moved smoothly over the dam without creating any flood
and soil erosion. There was no rainfall for about 10 days after deflating the dam. Hence in this drought
period, the dam was again inflated to a height of 0.80 m by pumping water into the dam to increase
water level in the up streamside. The water was diverted to the lands through a channel on the left side,
and it was able to submerge an area of about 20 hectares of land for raising rice seedlings in nursery
beds and the transplantation of the same in the field. The water was also used to irrigate the already
cultivated paddy fields, sown in the month of June. During the last week of July, there was continuous
rainfall in Odisha due to low pressure in Bay of Bengal. In this period, the dam was deflated to ground
level allowing safe passage of water towards down streamside without damaging the structure. After
9 www.technicaltextile.net

the rainfall recedes, there was also a drought period of 10 days. Again at the request of the farmers, the
dam was inflated to a height of 0.85 m with the help of a 1.5 HP portable pump. During this period, the
velocity of water was also measured. When the depth of water was 0.3 m, the measured velocity was
found to be 2.5 m/sec, and at 0.9 m, it was 7.1 m/sec. In first week of August10, there was a heavy
rainfall in the operational area and the dam had to be deflated to a height of 0.3 m. The dam has been
found to be functioning well on the principle of inflation and deflation. The hydrostatic pressure was
measured and found to be within 2 kN/m2. By creating eddy current as well as higher velocity in the
upstream, the dam was studied for damage. The broken bottles and heavy weight debris were forced to
flow from upstream to pass through rubber dam, and no structural damage was noticed.

a) Before monsoon b) During Monsoon

Fig. 4: Flexible Inflated Check Dam at Baghamari

Besides, a rubber dam has also been installed at Badaphokaria in the same district as a gate for an
impounding structure for water storage and ground recharging (Fig. 5).

a) Site before Installation b) After installation

Fig 5: Impounding Structure at Badaphokaria

10 www.technicaltextile.net


In the present investigation, an indigenous technology for manufacturing flexible rubber dam including
its all components, rubber-textile composite manufacturing and its joining method and installation
protocols to function as a check dam have been developed. The system was tested in the lab as well as
in the field as a geo-system. It was found that,

Inflatable flexible rubber dams installed at IRMRA, Thane and at Odisha are found effective in
water management for agricultural purpose.
Due to their structural simplicity, easy inflatable and deflectable conditions, they can be widely
put into applications, such as storage for irrigation, impounding structure etc.
Flexible check dam can be used for various watershed management schemes for rainwater
harvesting and water management practices for a long period without incurring any substantial
maintenance cost.
More research work is needed to understand the long-term behavior of rubber dam and also,
for reducing the cost of fabrication and installation.


We acknowledge the financial support of ICAR, New Delhi under NAIP. The co-operation extended by
the Directors of IRMRA (Thane), CIRCOT (Mumbai), Kusumgar Corporates Pvt Ltd (Mumbai) and
Directorate of water management (Bhubaneswar). Authors are thankful to their co-investigators for
their support in execution of the project. Special thanks goes to Dr. A. Bandopadhyay, National Co-
ordination (NAIP: component 4) for conceiving the very idea of application of rubber dam for watershed


1. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Anicut.
2. T. Khal and S. Ruell, Flashboard alternatives including rubber dams, Proceedings of waterpower,
New York, 447-456 (1989).
3. P.W.M. Tam and X. Zhang, Management of rubber dams in Hong Kong, Can. J. Civ. Eng. 26
(2), 123134 (1999).
4. M.K. Talukdar, S.K. Chattopadhyay and B.P. Pal, Design and Development of Fabric Substrate for
Flexible Rubber Dams, presented in The International Conference on Technical Textiles and
Nonwovens, organized by IIT Delhi, from 11 to 13th November 2008.