A simple, low cost way to protect lives and buildings
Liverpool, UK — 24 November, 2009 – Flooding is a major problem around the world with lives being lost, costly property damage and economic losses especially as lack of building land means that flood plans are increasing being built upon. Unfortunately flood barrier systems are either primitive such as sandbags or sheeting or very expensive such as custom build barriers and usually require manual assembly when needed. Aquastop Ltd has patented a low cost, flood barrier system called SAHARA™ that is easy to install in a variety of diverse terrains, can be easily stored when not in use, requires no planning permission and has no negative visual impact.
Developed in conjunction with the University of Liverpool, the Aquastop system consists of an inflatable barrier that is made from neoprene, which is used to construct rigid inflatable boats, and stored in a deflated state underground in a trench and covered with a hinged cover. When a flood warning is received, the barrier can be inflated in a few minutes by flicking a switch. Once the flood waters have receded, the system can be deflated and easily stored again. Modelling work by the University of Liverpool has found that such a barrier with support posts every two metres can withstand the pressures exerted by water travelling at 5 m/s. A key feature of the design is that it can be fully automatic and even triggered remotely if required making it ideal for protecting vital installations such as electricity substations.
“The problem with almost all existing flood defence systems is that they rely on the building walls to keep out the water,” explained inventor, William Irving. “This can create problems if the system does not make a watertight seal with the building allowing water ingress, the pressure of the water is too much for the brickwork, or if the bricks and mortar become waterlogged let water through which can happen in a few hours. You then have the problem of drying the building out afterwards which can take weeks and there is usually damage to plaster, etc. Aquastop prevents all these problems by keeping flood waters at bay away from the actual property itself preventing structural damage. A typical Aquastop installation would cost around £10,000, which is about a third of the typical claim for flood damage to a property, and have a life of well over 20 years.”
The company has completed the initial research phase on the invention with the assistance of the University of Liverpool’s id2m centre in the Department of Engineering. “We think that this could be a really effective way to protect properties,” said Dr Matt Fulton, id2m centre manager at Liverpool University who worked on the concept. “It is simple, reliable, easy to maintain and quick to deploy with minimal visual impact when not in use. Aquastop’s solution could save insurance companies a huge amount of claims and could even be worth them subsidising its installation for high risk properties.”
Aquastop is a privately held company and is now seeking investment funding to develop this innovative technology for commercial use around the world. For further information, please contact William Irving, Aquastop’s MD, on 07765 892496 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Between 1998 and 2004, Europe suffered over 100 major damaging floods. Since 1998 floods in Europe have caused some 700 deaths, the displacement of about half a million people and at least €25 billion in insured economic losses.
According to the Association of British Insurers (the ABI) there are more than 2 million homes (housing 5 million people) at risk from coastal or inland flooding (10 % of total homes in the UK), and around 400,000 homes at very high risk of flooding (greater than 1-in-75 chance). In addition, 185,000 business properties worth over £215 billion and agricultural lands worth over £7 billion at risk from flooding in England and Wales. Recent floods, such as those in 2007 which caused the loss of 13 lives and flooding of 48,000 homes and 7,000 businesses and cost the UK around £3 billion, are becoming more common.
o More than 5,000 houses are flooded each year;
o Average flood damage cost is £30,000 – £40,000 for domestic houses and £90,000 for commercial premises;
o Average insurance premiums are £339, with an average excess of £2,500.
o Defra and the Environment Agency put the cost of flooding at £1.15 billion, £401 million of which is to businesses, due to damages and loss of market share.
In extreme cases, this can increase massively. For example, the severe flooding of June-July 2007 affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and as a result:
o 13 people lost their lives;
o 48,000 households were flooded;
o 7,300 businesses were flooded;
o Many homes and businesses were left without electricity and mains water;
o Commercial premises were typically disrupted for an average of 8.75 days;
o There were 160,000 (home and business) insurance claims.
o Damage cost to insurers is estimated at over £3 billion (an average claim of £18,750).
The combined factors of climate change and increased building in areas where flood are likely (such as flood-plains) has lead to increasing numbers of buildings being affected by flooding and increasing costs to individuals, insurers and the government. Following on from the 2007 flood, the Pitt Review recommended that the Environment Agency should urgently develop and implement a clear policy on the use of temporary and demountable defences and roll-out a telephone flood warning schemes to all homes and businesses liable to flooding. Grant funding can be obtained from DEFRA whereby properties in high risk areas can be awarded funding for free home flood surveys and a grant towards the cost of the flood protection measures that are identified in those surveys.
SAHARA is a trademark of Aquastop Limited.