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Rubber Dams

Inflatable rubber dams have been used as water control structures for more than fifty years. The world’s first inflatable rubber dam was installed in Los Angeles County in the USA in the mid-1950s. In those days, inflatable rubber dams were viewed much as they are today as relatively inexpensive, versatile structures capable of creating pondage and/or controlling flow in a particular watercourse.

The rubber dam is a permanent structure comprising a sheet of rubber-coated fabric (rubber body) which is fixed to a reinforced concrete foundation using clamp plates and anchor bolts. The rubber dam is inflated by pumping air or water inside the rubber body until the design height or pressure is reached. It is deflated by allowing the air or water inside the rubber body to escape.


The inflatable rubber dam has numerous advantages over other types of water control gate, such as:

  • Simple and inexpensive operating system
  • Can be installed on almost any channel cross-section shape
  • Relatively low capital cost
  • Perfect sealing; no leakage
  • Virtually maintenance free; no moving parts, no painting
  • Long spans up to 100m; multiple spans of several hundred metres
  • Easily designed to accept loading in both directions
  • Light structure
  • Clean operation; no hydraulic oil required
  • Can always be "opened" (deflated); no possibility of jamming