Patent application title: Rapid Deployment, Self-Inflating, Interlocking, Modular Flood-Water Barrier Wall System
Paul J. Bouchard (Little Rock, AR, US)
Robert S. Bouchard (Little Rock, AR, US)
Clarence A. Cassidy (Escondido, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AE02B702FI
Class name: Flow control artificial water barrier (e.g., dam, levee, etc.) connectable sections
Publication date: 2012-08-16
Patent application number: 20120207545
The water barrier is comprised of a number of interconnected modules,
that contain expansive material (such as polymer powder). Each module has
inlets that allow rising water to enter the interior volume of the module
so that it inflates from a flattened configuration to a four sided shape.
The shape is wedge shaped and the modules are alternated so that the
narrow end of the module is toward the rising water on one module and the
wide end is next to the rising water on the adjacent module, so that
pressure from the rising water is transferred to adjacent modules from
module to module and ultimately to an anchoring system.
1. A water barrier system comprising: A plurality of modules arranged in
at least one string of multiple modules, said modules formed of sheet
material forming an enclosed volume, expansive material contained in the
modules that expands when wet, to form a three dimensional shape of
substantial height and strength, at least one water ingress opening in
each module to admit rising water and cause the module to incrementally
increase in height as the expansive material hydrates to form a structure
with at least three sides and a top and bottom, and an anchoring system
which transfers the stress tending to force the module away from the
rising water, to anchors on opposite ends of each string of modules.
2. The water barrier system of claim 1, wherein, The modules have at least four sides with one end being wider than the other, The modules being arranged with the wider and narrower ends alternating along the string of modules.
3. The water barrier system of claim 1, wherein, said modules are wedge shaped in horizontal cross section with one end being substantially larger than the opposite end.
4. The water barrier of claim 3, wherein, said modules are trapezoidal in shape.
5. The water barrier of claim 1 wherein: The walls said module is comprised of woven fabric material.
6. The water barrier of claim 1, wherein, said module is comprised of sheet plastic material.
7. The water barrier of claim 1, wherein, the water egress opening incorporates a one-way valve.
8. The water barrier of claim 1, wherein, said one-way valve prevents the outflow of water or of solidified expansive material.
9. The water barrier of claim 1, wherein, said expansive material comprises cellulose.
10. The water barrier of claim 9, wherein, said expansive material comprises a cross-linked polymer powder.
11. The water barrier of claim 10, wherein, said cross-linked polymer comprises an acrylamide.
12. The water barrier of claim 10 wherein, said cross linked polymer comprises an acrylate.
13. The water barrier of claim 1, wherein, the enclosed volume of the Inflation Module is 50 cubic feet or more.
14. The water barrier of claim 1 wherein, said linear element comprises plastic coated steel cable.
15. The water barrier of claim 1 wherein, said linear element comprises rope.
16. The water barrier of claim 1 wherein, said linear element comprises web strapping.
17. The water barrier of claim 1, wherein, webbing material is attached to the exterior of said module and at least partial surrounds the horizontal aspect of said module when it is inflated by the hydration of the expansive material.
18. The water barrier of claim 1, wherein, there are a plurality of vertically stacked egress openings to allow the egress of flood waters to higher and higher levels as the expansive material expands.
19. A water barrier system comprising: A plurality of modules arranged in at least one string of multiple modules, said modules formed of sheet material and forming an enclosed volume, expansive material contained in the modules that expands when wet, to form a three dimensional shape of substantial height and strength, at least one water ingress opening in each module to admit rising water and cause the module to incrementally increase in height as the expansive material hydrates to form a structure with at least three sides and a top and bottom, and an anchoring system incorporating ground penetrating shafts on opposite ends of a string of modules to which linear elements are attached to transfer the stress tending to force the modules away from the rising water, to anchors on opposite ends of each string of modules.
20. The water barrier of claim 19, wherein, said linear elements that are secured to each of said modules in a string of modules.
21. The water barrier system of claim 20 wherein said modules have attached strapping with openings through which said linear elements are passed.
22. The water barrier of claim 21, wherein, said openings are formed by webbing loops attached to said modules.
23. A water barrier system comprising: a plurality of modules arranged in at least one string of multiple modules, said modules formed of sheet material and forming an enclosed volume, expansive material contained in the modules that expands when wet, to form a three dimensional shape of substantial height and strength, said modules being connected together by at least on high strength linear element holding said modules in a side by side abutting relationship.
24. A water barrier system according to claim 23, wherein: Said modules having at least on vertically oriented seal attached to the sides abutting adjacent modules.
 The present application is related to and claims the priority benefit of co-pending U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/442,774, entitled Rapid Deployment, Self-Inflating, Interlocking, Modular Flood-Water Barrier Wall System, filed Dec. 14, 2010 by the present inventors.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The loss and devastation caused by the incursion of unwanted or unexpected flood water into areas not designed or built to survive such flooding is well known and documented.
 Often in the spring, as the winter's snow and ice accumulation melts (frequently exacerbated by seasonal rains), vast areas including farms, towns and cities, are literally inundated, often to the point the only the roofs of dwelling are visible above the flood waters.
 The frequency and severity of flooding is dependant on many factors including weather patterns and cycles, proximity to rivers and streams, adequacy of flood mitigation infrastructure, land use and elevation, and sometimes the availability of people and machines to intervene and construct temporary dikes and barriers, especially in low-lying, flood prone areas.
 Flooding and the devastation caused each year by rising waters costs society billions of dollars, loss of life and of irreplaceable personal property. Flooding and the resulting damage and loss is not limited to third-world countries or economically depressed areas. They can happen almost anytime and anywhere.
 Occasionally the waters appear suddenly as with a flash flood, dam or levee breach, etc. but normally flooding is predictable and provides some time for evacuation or preparation.
 Often, thousands of people will turn out to serve as volunteers to fill and place sandbags in hopes of keeping unwanted water out of a downtown, a school, hospital or other critical infrastructure such as telephone switch facilities or power distribution sub-stations. Unfortunately, many of those volunteers later report and/or file injury claims against the city of municipality for back, hand and shoulder injuries.
 To properly construct a sandbag wall five feet in height, the US Army Corp of Engineers recommends using 9,000 filled sandbags for each 100 feet of length. The same 9,000 bags require 100 cubic yards of sand which translates to 180 tons of sand! The logistics of getting 180 tons of sand to, or near, the site where the dike is a major impediment to the timely installation of the dike. Even the largest dump trucks can only carry 18 tons of sand so therefore over 10 large sand and gravel delivery trucks would be required for 100 feet of protection.
 Compounding the logistics can be challenges like wet, soft ground and the inability to get the loose sand delivered close enough to the bag filling areas. In such instances, multiple front-end loaders with drivers are then required to move the sand from the dump site to the bag filling site and then the filled bags have to make their way to the site of the actual dike or wall construction.
 On average, the cost to fill and place a traditional sandbag will run between $0.60 (bag and sand only, using all volunteer labor) to $2.00+ per bag when filled and delivered by a commercial provider using its own labor and machines.
 As a result, a five foot high, 100 foot long `wall` of sandbags can cost the town, city or private property owner up to $18,000. One thousand linear feet could easily cost over $150,000. Yet, there are several tens of thousands of miles of existing earthen levees alone and tens of thousands more miles of rivers, streams, lake fronts and ocean shoreline that can require immediate, temporary and/or permanent barriers to mitigate flooding and subsequent property damage.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The current invention provides a highly cost effective, quickly deployed, interlocking, self-inflating and self-adjusting height, flood water barrier system that will result in the substantial savings in the cost of installation and in the protection of lives, and property. The modules low initial weight (approximately 35 lbs in a typical configuration) is one of the features that makes the rapid deployment possible.
 Depending upon the length and height of the desired barrier wall, it is composed of the required number of Bags which are hereafter referred to as Inflation Modules positioned to form a vertical wall or barrier facing the approaching flood waters. The system can be deployed in a fraction of the time needed to build a traditional sand bag wall, and is especially valuable at sites not easily accessible by heavy trucks and machinery or at locations where there are insufficient labor resources (paid or volunteer).
 The system completely eliminates the need to purchase and haul huge quantities of sand. When the flood threat is over the barrier is easily dismantled, removed, stored and capable of re-use.
 The system uses a unique, self-inflating wedge shaped main Inflation Module which, when combined with a flexible matrix of linear elements such as cables, rope or webbing, it provides exceptional blocking or barrier strength but with maximum flexibility vis-a-vis height that can be selected, thickness of the barrier, and the application to various construction surfaces. The preferred wedge shape is trapezoidal.
 The present invention is a modular Flood Barrier Wall or dike system composed of a single (or multiple) row(s) of one or multiple levels in height of large, self-inflating, wedge shaped, woven or non-woven material preferably fabric creating an enclosed volume. The Inflation Modules have up to 60 or more cubic feet of volume in each such Module all of which partially or wholly use the floodwater itself to hydrate expansive materials which preferably are comprised of dry cellulose and/or powered cross linked acrylamide or acrylate cross-linked polymers capable of absorbing up to 500 or more times its own weight in water (salt or fresh) contained inside the Module to then inflate, expand and completely fill the interior cavity of the above described trapezoidal Inflation Module.
 The self-inflating feature of the flood barrier system allows the entire structure to be extremely light weight before hydration and can be deployed quickly with minimal labor and without the aid of heavy machines. For example, prior to hydration (from any source including the flood-waters themselves), a 50-60 cubic foot Inflation Module with a cellulose/polymer blend typically weighs less than 35 lbs. Following complete hydration of the super absorbent cellulose and cross-linked polymers, the same Module weighs approximately 3,000 lbs.
 While a traditional 5' high sandbag wall or dike would require a continuous base width of at least 10' (front to back), the current invention typically requires a base (or bottom) footprint of less than 5'.
 The height of the Modular Barrier Wall invention described in this Application is variable based on several factors. The first is determined by the height of the fully hydrated and inflated Module itself. Inflation Modules can be produced in multiple heights (typically 36'' and 60'') and stackable so the content volumes and weights of the final configuration will vary accordingly.
 As an example, stacking 36'' high Modules on top of 60'' high Modules (aligning the seams in the lower or first row of Modules with the center line of the bags comprising the second or next row for added strength and leak resistance, a wall of approximately 96'' or 8 feet in height can be built.
 Whereas sandbag walls or dikes are built in a pyramid shape (side view), the barrier wall system described herein is not. The front-to-back (`z` axis) represents the thickness of the barrier wall and will typically be the same at the base or bottom as it is at the top of the same Module. This results from the extra stability obtained through the use of the wedge shaped module.
 The resistive or `blocking` strength or ability of the barrier wall described herein to hold back `x` inches or feet of encroaching flood water is a function of the combination of one or more of the following unique features:
 The geometric strength of the module is enhanced by a rigid endoskeleton which include the rigid corner baffle system, and an optional x-brace to maintain the integrity of the trapezoidal shape.
 The hydrated weight and mass of each Module itself (typically 3,000 pounds or more and 50-60 cubic feet of semi-solid expansive materials such as hydrated polymers completely filling and pushing out against the outer fabric skin of the Module.
 The connectivity of one Module to the other is via a high tensile strength linear element. The linear element preferably may be vinyl coated steel cable, rope or woven webbing (the rope and webbing can made from natural or man-made fibers such as polypropylene). These linear elements of which there are typically two per row (or wall) of Modules, run through attachment structures, preferably strap loops secured to each Inflation Module The first linear element runs parallel to the ground with one along the top `back` edge (the one furthest away from the approaching flood waters) and the second along the bottom back edge of the barrier wall structure. The linear elements are either pre-threaded or field threaded through strap loops sewn or otherwise attached to the outside fabric or skin of the Inflation Modules. A single pair of these parallel connecting linear elements can be used to connect up to twelve (12) Inflation Modules (the group of Modules so connected are also referred to herein as a string) together (totaling, for example, thirty linear feet). The ends of both linear elements may then be secured to one or more ground anchors which may be steel, of appropriate strength driven approximately 24''-36'' into the ground 4-6 feet past the first and last Module connected into that particular string of Modules. The stakes preferably are driven at angles leaning away from the direction of the linear elements and at an angle ranging from 10° to 90° off the `X` axis or front of the barrier wall preferably leaning in the direction of the approaching water. The linear elements serve, in part, to hold the modules in side by side abutting relationship.
 The entire barrier wall itself may advantageously be placed in a shallow (approximately 6'' to 8'') deep, by up to approximately 60'' wide trench. The trench is cut, scrapped or dug in earth such as by a small tractor or a front-end loader. In an ideal implementation, and subject to time and availability of materials, the above described trench would receive 1'' of sand in the bottom from one side to the other and for the entire length of the trench. If sand is not available, various thick, non-woven geo-textiles or erosion mats can be placed in the trench. Whatever material is used, it will serve to help create a water seal between the bottom of the Inflation Module and the bottom of the trough on which the Modules rest. This seal inhibits the flow of water under the Inflation Module and avoids the accompanying erosion. In applications where the barrier wall will be built on concrete or asphalt levee, a courser, thicker and a higher friction matting or pad is used under the Modules. The rear portion of the barrier wall will typically be placed along the rear wall or lip of the shallow trench so that the Modules are held in position by the back edge of the recessed trench for added stability of the barrier wall.
 In some applications it may be necessary or prudent to place an additional row or partial row of Inflation Modules behind the main barrier wall staggered so that the center of the wide end of the trapezoid overlaps the joints created between three of the Modules on the front row of the barrier wall.
 When the flood waters reach the Inflation Modules, each Module hydrates and its expansive materials fill the interior space of the Module, the Module itself will fill and `plump up` and its sides will bow outwardly. Therefore two adjacent Modules will bow against each other and eliminate any space between them that existed prior to the hydration process. This action will close the space between the Modules and restrict water seepage. To further enhance and assure the sealing of the space between Modules, there may be attached to the exterior side walls and across the bottom of each Inflation Module and running the full height of each Module two, parallel 3-6'' wide strips of thick natural or man-made fabric (including foam rubber) seals or alternatively pliable rubber rib seals, also running the full height of each Module (beginning at the bottom-most edge or corner of the Module and running straight up to the top edge or corner of the Module. These horizontal and vertical and bottom `seals` will be positioned so that when two Modules are placed side by side, the vertical seals are either side by side or, alternatively butting up against one another if a thicker seal is required.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 depicts a typical line, String or section of the barrier wall with individual Inflation Modules set side-by-side (alternating front-back-front-back) and connected to one another with two parallel ropes or cables. The Figure further illustrates the placement of the barrier wall in a shallow trough or trench lined with a geo-textile fabric material) to serve as additional water sealing between the bottom of the Inflation Modules and the ground or (in some cases, not illustrated here), a hard surface such as concrete or asphalt.
 FIG. 2 is an isometric perspective from the right corner of the exterior of a single Inflation Module showing the top, and one wide ends of a typical Module. The widest end and is always directly opposite the shortest end of the trapezoid, Visible in the upper center portion of the wide end are the water inlet ports described hereinafter. In the illustrated embodiment `Y` is typically 42-48'' and `N` is up to 96'' though in the illustrated embodiment, it is 48-72''.
 FIG. 3 is an isometric perspective from the exterior right `rear` corner of a single Inflation Module. Running vertically down both sides (as well as across the bottom and, in some embodiments, also across the top) are the thick fabric, foam or rubber water seals that assist in blocking the water from flowing between two Modules or under them. If multiple rows of Inflation Modules are stacked on top of one another similar water seals will be attached to the top panel either across it to align with the vertical seals attached to the sides or around the entire perimeter of the top.
 FIG. 4 is a straight-on, `eye-level` view or elevation of the exterior front of a single Inflation Module showing the ropes or cables passing through the Module's straps as well as the external portion of the water inlet port system.
 FIG. 5 is a straight-on, `eye-level` view or elevation of the exterior back or rear portion of a single Inflation Module with portions of the two exterior side sections also seen. This perspective also shows the passage of the connector rope or cable) through the Module's straps as well as the external portion of the water inlet system and the two vertical side seals on each of the side panels.
 FIG. 6 is a straight-on, eye-level view of the bottom exterior of a typical Inflation Module showing the externally attached water seals which are typically extensions of the side seals across the bottom of the Module.
 FIG. 7 is a `look-down` isometric view of the interior (with the rear of the Module at the bottom of the drawing and the front at the top of the drawing) of the preferred embodiment of a typical Module showing the front and rear interior portion of the water inlet port system and mechanical back-flow valves.
 FIG. 8 is a look-down isometric view of the interior (with the rear of the Module at the top of the drawing) of the Module with the preferred embodiment of the water egress structure in the form of water inlet port and valve systems. Also depicted are the rigid interior endoskeleton reinforcement and which includes corner shaping baffles. Not shown but which may be included in the interior skeletal support system is an optional `X` brace that snaps into the four triangular corner posts and provides shape rigidity just below the top exterior skin of the Inflation Module.
 FIG. 9 depicts the preferred embodiment water egress structure is a filter/inlet and valve system in which is a wind-sock shaped flexible nozzle. The nozzle may non-permeable with both ends open, or permeable with the interior end open or closed, is fitted on the interior stubs of the inlet pipes. These flexible fabric (woven, non-woven or a combination of woven and non-woven) or soft rubber socks allow the passage of water into the Inflation Module (e.g. from the rising flood water itself) but restrict the backflow of hydrated or un-hydrated cellulose/polymers out through the ports to the outside of the Module when they become folded either from gravity in the case of the un-hydrated Module contents as a result of the socks weight and length or from the pressure of the expanding cellulose/polymer gel caused by absorption of the water inside the Inflation Module. The socks are effective simple mechanical valves allowing the one-way passage of liquid or semi-solids while restricting the out-flow of any material (dry or liquid) from the Inflation Module.
 FIG. 10 is an isometric, look-down perspective of the interior of an alternative embodiment of an Inflation Module. In this view, the rear of the Module is at the bottom of the drawing and the front of the Module is at the top of the drawing. In this Figure, the various internal components the comprise the endoskeleton and systems are shown in an alternative embodiment including the front corner baffles, the rear interior baffle system and water hydration inlet system. The majority of the interior components and systems are formed or cast from various rigid plastic and/or rubber combinations to provide the proper balance between strength and flexibility.
 FIG. 11 is a look-down, isometric perspective of the interior of an alternative embodiment of an Inflation Module with the front of the Module at the bottom of the view and the rear (shortest side of the trapezoid) at the top of the Module. This perspective shows in some detail, the endoskeleton components and structures used to maintain shape and rigidity of the Module.
 FIG. 12 depicts specific detail of the alternative embodiment of the interior portion of the water inlet port system. It is composed of three (3) sub-components: A) the primary back plate which has a number of circular and hollow `pipes` that extend through the outer shell or skin of the Module and with the other end of the pipes extending into the interior space of the Module approximately 1-2''. B) the semi-permeable filter material (typically a thin but strong non-woven man-made fabric) that allows water to enter the Inflation Module but helps keep mud and debris out, as well as the hydrated cellulose/polymers inside the Inflation Module; C) is the snap-on frame that serves to hold the filter/barrier material in place across the row of inlet ports. This system allows the filter/barrier material to be replaced between uses.
 FIG. 13 is a `look-down` top view of a typical string of Inflation Modules in a deployed configuration. In this embodiment, additional single Inflation Modules (used for reinforcement) have been placed (and connected via cable to provide additional support (weight and volume) at select intervals behind the barrier wall. These additional reinforcing Modules are fully hydrated with water prior to the arrival of the flood waters to the front edge of the barrier wall. In this depiction, the flood water would be approaching from the bottom of the drawing. Each reinforcement module is designed to overlap all or portions of three (3) of the main or front row Inflation Modules to take maximum advantage of the trapezoidal shape of the wall structure itself.
 FIG. 14 depicts a section of what a complete barrier wall might look like when deployed for the purpose of protecting a building from approaching flood waters.
 Referring now to the drawings there is illustrated in FIGS. 1-7, Inflation Modules 100. These Modules are the primary building blocks of the barrier wall and are made from a flexible container or bag. These bags are preferably are made of woven natural or man-made materials such as polypropylene. In the illustrated embodiment, the material is 6-9 oz. tightly woven polypropylene treated for a minimum of 1,600 hours of UV resistance and produced in solid black with orange web strapping and side seals. The Module measures approximately 48'' across the front, 12'' across the back and with equal sides measuring approximately 48''. The Module has a carrying capacity ranging from 3,000 lbs. to 6,000 lbs. with as much as a 500% safety factor. Depending upon the selected outside dimensions of the Module, the typical bag will hold between 40 and 60 cubic feet of hydrated cellulose/polymers.
 Typically a single string of Modules arranged side by side, and placed alternating front-back and back front for a virtually unlimited total length. Additional Modules may be placed on top of the bottom string to increase the height of the wall. Additional individual Modules may also be placed at random or fixed intervals along the rear of the main barrier wall to provide additional weight and mass to the main wall in cases where the flood waters are either rising very fast or are expected to exert additional forces against the wall from currents or large objects that may be carried along with the flood waters and could impact and weaken the main wall.
 Referring to FIG. 8, Reinforcement Module 100A can be identical to all the other Inflation Modules 100 except for its deployment and hydration. These Modules 100A can be placed at various intervals behind the barrier wall depending on local, real-time conditions (speed and volume of approaching water, likelihood of heavy objects (e.g. tree limbs) floating in the flood waters, etc). They also differ in that they are fully hydrated at the time of placement and not dependant on the flood waters themselves to hydrate any portion of this category of Module. Water Inlet Port/Valve System.
 Referring to FIG. 8, Parts 101A, 101B, 101C and 101D collectively comprise the inlet port system. Each such inlet port penetrates from the inside through the outer wall of the Inflation Module 100 and allows water to enter the Inflation Module 100. Where desired the inlet port system may incorporate a filter which may be a semi-permeable membrane, mesh filter, or woven rubber/latex material that allows the free flow of water through and inward, but restricts the back flow of either dry or hydrated expansive material located on the inside of the Module prior to hydration. The inlet port system may desirably be made of UV treated, non-toxic, bio-degradable plastic or hard rubber.
 The external portion 101A of the inlet port penetrates the outer skin or fabric of the Inflation Module.
 A groove 101B is provided in the inlet port 101A on the interior side of the inlet port. The groove provides a recess 101B for the rubber or elastic band 101C. The one-way valve 101D is held in place by the rubber of elastic band 101C which seats in the grove 101B so that the one-way valve 101D will not slip off.
 The rubber or elastic band 101C in its original circumference, is approximately 20% smaller than the port 101A's circumference that it the band 101C will encircle. The size difference assures it will fit tightly around the port.
 The wind-sock shaped rubber or fabric one-way valve 101D is attached around the inlet port system, inside the Inflation Module 100. The circumference of the sock at the large end is slightly more than the circumference of the inlet port itself to allow the sock to be slipped on easily but relatively snuggly and then secured by the elastic band 101C. Both ends of the sock are open with the non-connected (dangling) end typically somewhat smaller than the connected end. When the Inflation Module is dry and un-hydrated, the sock hangs vertically. When water in entering through the inlet pipe or port from outside the Module, the pressure and volume of that water causes the sock to move to the horizontal allowing the inflowing water to enter freely. When the interior of the Inflation Module fills with expansive material, that material pushes against the sock causing it to bend in one direction or another, thus shutting off (blocking) either the entrance of additional water into the Module, or the exit or seepage of hydrated expansive material back out through the inlet ports.
 Referring to FIG. 10, externally mounted cable straps 101 and 102 are typically made from man-made fibers (such as polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene) and are tightly woven into web-like straps measuring up to five (5) inches wide and two or more times the thickness of an automobile seatbelt strap. The straps are attached to the Module by sewing, stapling, heat bonding or riveting one to the other. The straps may extend 18'' or more down the sides or across the top or bottom of the Module. In some embodiments, the straps run down (or up) the sides and across the top (or bottom) in one continuous length. The straps provide strength and reinforcement to the Module itself as well as serve to provide attachment loops through which the connecting cables or ropes may be threaded and passed.
 Referring to FIG. 12 the linear element 103 may be of approximately 1/2 "diameter nylon or similarly high-strength rope, web strapping or vinyl coated steel cable (typically 1/2''). The linear element 103 will typically connect 12-15 Modules in a string of Modules which is secured at both ends to a Ground Stake 103A. Any number of strings can be placed end to end to form a barrier wall of any desired length.
 Ground stake 103A secures the cable or rope and provides additional resistance against the rising flood waters pressing against the barrier wall. Such ground stakes will typically be made of steel, iron or wood and driven a minimum of 30'' into the ground at a slight angle away from the Barrier Wall and toward the approaching water. An auger-style stake may also be used to secure the cable or rope.
 Referring to FIG. 11, absorptive seals 104 are thick, felt-like strips of dense, non-woven fabric or foam rubber sewn or otherwise attached to selected outside surfaces of the Module. In the illustrated embodiment, the seals run vertically up the sides between the Modules and across the bottom, and parallel to the front of the barrier wall. The strips are typically 2-4'' wide and average 1/4'' in thickness (dry). They will absorb a certain amount of water (depending upon the type of material used) and swell up to 50% or more of their original `dry` thickness. The seals fill in the space between the Modules (sides, tops or bottoms) and block the passage of water between the Module and whatever is adjacent to a particular seal for example other Inflation Modules, or the base on which the wall is being built. The Seals are attached to the Modules in either a staggered placement (so that they will not overlap one another); or exactly in the same location on each Module so that the seals from two adjacent Modules are stacked (doubled up) to provide a thicker seal between adjacent Modules.
 Referring to FIG. 12, access ports 105 are shown as being located in the top section of the Inflation Module are mechanically re-sealable openings in the Module that allow the placement and removal of the superabsorbent cellulose/polymers mix and/or the filter or valve materials located within the interior of the Module. A single access port 105 will typically be 18'' in length. If multiple ports are used, the length of each could be as little as 12''. These ports also serve the purpose of removing the de-hydrated cellulose/polymer from a Module after its use if so desired.
 Referring again to FIG. 1, restraining trench 106A is a shallow (typically approximately 6'') trench that measures up to 60'' wide and extends the full length of the intended barrier wall formed by the string of Modules. This trench is typically lined with a 1/2'' of sand or alternatively a geo-textile fabric material that can serve several purposes. The most effective prevention of water seepage and erosion under the wall of Inflation Modules is to provide a dense yet soft surface on which the Inflation Modules sit to allow their individual weight (averaging 3,000 pounds each or more) to seat into the underlayment material. The underlayment material is helpful to create as much friction between the bottom of each Module and the surface on or in which it is sitting in order to keep the wall parts from moving as a result of the water pressure against them.
 Referring to FIGS. 10 through 12 and alternative embodiment is illustrated, in the alternative embodiment, there are interior bracing plates 107 and corner angle baffles 107A placed in each corner and running the entire height of the Module. In the illustrated embodiment they are sewn directly into the `skin` or fabric of the Module. In alternative embodiments they may be welded (ultrasonically or by radio frequency), or attached with rivets (made desirably of plastic). The baffles may also be attached using adhesives preferable of non-toxic and bio-degradable materials. Not shown but included in the interior `skeletal` support system is an optional `X` brace that snaps into the four triangular corner posts and provides shape rigidity just below the top exterior `skin` of the Inflation Module.
 The interior facing surface 107A may, as illustrated, have large holes or ports for improving structural rigidity and/or allowing the passage of hydrated cellulose into the space created by the triangular baffle.
 Referring to FIG. 12 the alternative embodiment of the Water Inlet/Barrier System design is a three part system composed of a back plate that includes the ports 108E and 108D; a semi-permeable woven or non-woven fabric or filter material (not shown) that allows the inflow of water but prevents the outflow of un-hydrated or hydrated expansive material back out through the ports; and the `snap-on` frame 108C with pegs 108E and receptacles 108B that hold the fabric/filter material in place.
 The frame 108C snaps into receptacles (not shown) and holds the filter/fabric tightly in place across the inlet ports.
 108D depicts the interior portion of the inlet port or pipe through which water may enter the Module
 108E depicts the male and female snap mechanism that allows the frame to attach to the back plate 108A.
Patent applications by Paul J. Bouchard, Little Rock, AR US
Patent applications in class Connectable sections
Patent applications in all subclasses Connectable sections