Sand Bags: Flood Adaptation Measure


Sand bags line on street protected from floodwaters - Bangkok, Thailand
©Shinji Makoto/Alamy Stock Photo

PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
SHORELINE LOCATION:
Asset Specific




DESIGN LIFE
ADAPTABILITY
IMPACT ON THE WATERFRONT
CONSTRUCTION COST
One-time Use
Low
Living with Water
Low


COASTAL FLOOD HAZARDS MITIGATED:
Sea Level Rise
Storm Surge
Groundwater
Waves
Erosion


MEASURES COMPATIBILITY:
ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Measure may affect these shoreline values
Flood
Seismic
All
All
Aquatic Habitat
Terrestrial Habitat
Water Quality
Carbon Storage


DESCRIPTION:
Sandbags can be used alone and to supplement other flood protection systems. When used alone, are stacked to provide a barrier to floodwater and are most effective with polyethylene sheeting. Properly filled and placed sandbags can act as a barrier to divert water. They do not guarantee a water-tight seal but are satisfactory in many situations.


CONSIDERATIONS:
ADVANTAGES:
DISADVANTAGES:
  • NEED TO UPDATE
  • Inexpensive and low-tech (easy to employ).
  • Provide limited level of protection, up to 2’ of flooding.
  • Can be time-consuming and labor intensive to fill, carry, and stack sandbags.
  • Not useful as a standalone measure for anything but small volume flows.
  • Can disrupt overland flow to Bay at certain locations.


CONSTRUCTION IMPACTS TO THE PUBLIC:
SEA LEVEL RISE ADAPTATION OPPORTUNITIES:
CASE STUDIES:
  • N/A
  • Not adaptable
  • None cited


DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES:
Ecological Enhancements
Urban Design
Form
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A


DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Sandbags can be used to fill gaps in a permanent system.
  • Untied sandbags are recommended for most situations in order to effectively fill; tied are only recommended for special situations when pre-filling or stockpiling may be required, or for specific purposes (holding objects in place or filling holes).

SITE-SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Foundation conditions (i.e. to be placed on concrete, pavement or soft soils).

URBAN DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Sandbags would impede pedestrian, cycling, and possibly automobile circulation.

INSTALLATION AND CONSTRUCTABILITY CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Need to be filled and installed prior to a flood event - if placed too late may not be effective.

ARCHITECTURAL CONSIDERATIONS:

  • No impact, due to intermittent deployment.

HISTORICAL RESOURCE CONSIDERATIONS:

  • No impact, due to intermittent deployment.

OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Not a permanent measure so operation and maintenance is minimal following installation.
  • Will require clean up following flood event.


Download the Sand Bags Factsheet.

Learn about other types of measures from our Measures Explorer page.


Sand bags line on street protected from floodwaters - Bangkok, Thailand
©Shinji Makoto/Alamy Stock Photo

PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
SHORELINE LOCATION:
Asset Specific




DESIGN LIFE
ADAPTABILITY
IMPACT ON THE WATERFRONT
CONSTRUCTION COST
One-time Use
Low
Living with Water
Low


COASTAL FLOOD HAZARDS MITIGATED:
Sea Level Rise
Storm Surge
Groundwater
Waves
Erosion


MEASURES COMPATIBILITY:
ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Measure may affect these shoreline values
Flood
Seismic
All
All
Aquatic Habitat
Terrestrial Habitat
Water Quality
Carbon Storage


DESCRIPTION:
Sandbags can be used alone and to supplement other flood protection systems. When used alone, are stacked to provide a barrier to floodwater and are most effective with polyethylene sheeting. Properly filled and placed sandbags can act as a barrier to divert water. They do not guarantee a water-tight seal but are satisfactory in many situations.


CONSIDERATIONS:
ADVANTAGES:
DISADVANTAGES:
  • NEED TO UPDATE
  • Inexpensive and low-tech (easy to employ).
  • Provide limited level of protection, up to 2’ of flooding.
  • Can be time-consuming and labor intensive to fill, carry, and stack sandbags.
  • Not useful as a standalone measure for anything but small volume flows.
  • Can disrupt overland flow to Bay at certain locations.


CONSTRUCTION IMPACTS TO THE PUBLIC:
SEA LEVEL RISE ADAPTATION OPPORTUNITIES:
CASE STUDIES:
  • N/A
  • Not adaptable
  • None cited


DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES:
Ecological Enhancements
Urban Design
Form
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A


DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Sandbags can be used to fill gaps in a permanent system.
  • Untied sandbags are recommended for most situations in order to effectively fill; tied are only recommended for special situations when pre-filling or stockpiling may be required, or for specific purposes (holding objects in place or filling holes).

SITE-SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Foundation conditions (i.e. to be placed on concrete, pavement or soft soils).

URBAN DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Sandbags would impede pedestrian, cycling, and possibly automobile circulation.

INSTALLATION AND CONSTRUCTABILITY CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Need to be filled and installed prior to a flood event - if placed too late may not be effective.

ARCHITECTURAL CONSIDERATIONS:

  • No impact, due to intermittent deployment.

HISTORICAL RESOURCE CONSIDERATIONS:

  • No impact, due to intermittent deployment.

OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Not a permanent measure so operation and maintenance is minimal following installation.
  • Will require clean up following flood event.


Download the Sand Bags Factsheet.

Learn about other types of measures from our Measures Explorer page.