Residential, Commercial & Heavy Construction | Foundation Contractor
 

Call today for a FREE ESTIMATE
(415) 895-5304
CA License #959104

The History and Interesting Facts about Levees

Post Info:

Published on:
07/09/2018

Post by:
Admin

Category:
Did you know 

Tag:
Dijk 
Emergency constructions 
Flood emergency 
Levee 
Levée 
Maloney Construction 
Mississippi levee system 
Repair dams 
Repair levees 

Back

Facts About Micropiles

Next

New Earthquake Retrofit Program Offers $3,000 to Homeowners Who Qualify

Previous

Speakers of American English (notably in the Midwest and Deep South), use the word levee, from the French word levée (from the feminine past participle of the French verb lever, "to raise"). It originated in New Orleans a few years after the city's founding in 1718 and was later adopted by English speakers. The name derives from the trait of the levee's ridges being raised higher than both the channel and the surrounding floodplains.

At Maloney Construction, we are called upon to repair levees and dams and that is why we're happy to be sharing this information with you. 

The modern word dike or dyke most likely derives from the Dutch word dijk, with the construction of dikes in Frisia (now part of the Netherlands and Germany) well attested as early as the 11th century. The 126 kilometres (78 mi) long Westfriese Omringdijk, completed by 1250, formed by connecting existing older dikes. The Roman chronicler Tacitus mentions that the rebellious Batavi pierced dikes to flood their land and to protect their retreat (AD 70). The word dijk originally indicated both the trench and the bank. It closely parallels the English verb to dig.

In Anglo-Saxon, the word dic already existed and was pronounced as dick in northern England and as ditch in the south. Similar to Dutch, the English origins of the word lie in digging a trench and forming the upcast soil into a bank alongside it. This practice has meant that the name may be given to either the excavation or to the bank. Thus Offa's Dyke is a combined structure and Car Dyke is a trench - though it once had raised banks as well. In the midlands and north of England, and in the United States, a dike is what a ditch is in the south, a property-boundary marker or small drainage-channel. Where it carries a stream, it may be called a running dike as in Rippingale Running Dike, which leads water from the catchwater drain, Car Dyke, to the South Forty Foot Drain in Lincolnshire (TF1427). The Weir Dike is a soak dike in Bourne North Fen, near Twenty and alongside the River Glen, Lincolnshire. In the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, a dyke may be a drainage ditch or a narrow artificial channel off a river or broad for access or mooring, some longer dykes being named, e.g. Candle Dyke]

In parts of Britain, particularly Scotland, a dyke may be a field wall, generally made with dry stone.

The main purpose of artificial levees is to prevent flooding of the adjoining countryside and to slow natural course changes in a waterway to provide reliable shipping lanes for maritime commerce over time; they also confine the flow of the river, resulting in higher and faster water flow. Levees can be mainly found along the sea, where dunes are not strong enough, along rivers for protection against high-floods, along lakes or along polders. Furthermore, levees have been built for the purpose of empoldering, or as a boundary for an inundation area. The latter can be a controlled inundation by the military or a measure to prevent inundation of a larger area surrounded by levees. Levees have also been built as field boundaries and as military defences. More on this type of levee can be found in the article on dry-stone walls.

Levees can be permanent earthworks or emergency constructions (often of sandbags) built hastily in a flood emergency. When such an emergency bank is added on top of an existing levee it is known as a cradge.

Some of the earliest levees were constructed by the Indus Valley Civilization (in Pakistan and North India from circa 2600 BC) on which the agrarian life of the Harappan peoples depended. Levees were also constructed over 3,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, where a system of levees was built along the left bank of the River Nile for more than 600 miles (970 km), stretching from modern Aswan to the Nile Delta on the shores of the Mediterranean. The Mesopotamian civilizations and ancient China also built large levee systems. Because a levee is only as strong as its weakest point, the height and standards of construction have to be consistent along its length. Some authorities have argued that this requires a strong governing authority to guide the work, and may have been a catalyst for the development of systems of governance in early civilizations. However, others point to evidence of large scale water-control earthen works such as canals and/or levees dating from before King Scorpion in Predynastic Egypt, during which governance was far less centralized.

Another example of a historical levee that protected the growing city-state of Mēxihco-Tenōchtitlan and the neighbouring city of Tlatelōlco, was constructed during the early 1400s, under the supervision of the tlahtoani of the altepetl Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl. Its function was to separate the brackish waters of Lake Texcoco (ideal for the agricultural technique Chināmitls) from the fresh potable water supplied to the settlements. However, after the Europeans destroyed Tenochtitlan, the levee was also destroyed and flooding became a major problem, which resulted in the majority of The Lake to be drained in the 17th Century.

Levees are usually built by piling earth on a cleared, level surface. Broad at the base, they taper to a level top, where temporary embankments or sandbags can be placed. Because flood discharge intensity increases in levees on both river banks, and because silt deposits raise the level of riverbeds, planning and auxiliary measures are vital. Sections are often set back from the river to form a wider channel, and flood valley basins are divided by multiple levees to prevent a single breach from flooding a large area. A levee made from stones laid in horizontal rows with a bed of thin turf between each of them is known as a spetchel.

Artificial levees require substantial engineering. Their surface must be protected from erosion, so they are planted with vegetation such as Bermuda grass in order to bind the earth together. On the land side of high levees, a low terrace of earth known as a banquette is usually added as another anti-erosion measure. On the river side, erosion from strong waves or currents presents an even greater threat to the integrity of the levee. The effects of erosion are countered by planting suitable vegetation or installing stones, boulders, weighted matting or concrete revetments. Separate ditches or drainage tiles are constructed to ensure that the foundation does not become waterlogged.

Prominent levee systems have been built along the Mississippi River and Sacramento River in the United States, and the Po, Rhine, Meuse River, Rhône, Loire, Vistula, the delta formed by the Rhine, Maas/Meuse and Scheldt in the Netherlands and the Danube in Europe. During the Chinese Warring States period, the Dujiangyan irrigation system was built by the Qin as a water conservation and flood control project. The system's infrastructure is located on the Minjiang  River, which is the longest tributary of the Chang Jiang, in Sichuan, China.

The Mississippi levee system represents one of the largest such systems found anywhere in the world. It comprises over 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of levees extending some 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) along the Mississippi, stretching from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to the Mississippi Delta. They were begun by French settlers in Louisiana in the 18th century to protect the city of New Orleans. The first Louisiana levees were about 3 feet (0.91 m) high and covered a distance of about 50 miles (80 km) along the riverside. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with the Mississippi River Commission, extended the levee system beginning in 1882 to cover the riverbanks from Cairo, Illinois to the mouth of the Mississippi delta in Louisiana. By the mid-1980s, they had reached their present extent and averaged 24 feet (7.3 m) in height; some Mississippi levees are as high as 50 feet (15 m). The Mississippi levees also include some of the longest continuous individual levees in the world. One such levee extends southwards from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for a distance of some 380 miles (610 km).

At Maloney Construction, we put our knowledge, experience and commitment to work for you. Client goals and expectations are never compromised when you hire Maloney Construction. We offer years of practical field experience and engineering background to make your vision a reality. From our closely monitored projects, both big and small, all the way to our first-class equipment and outstanding crew, no detail ever goes unnoticed at Maloney Construction. 

Sources: Wikipedia and History.com

 

Comments

Leave a comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Math question:

Solve this simple math problem and enter the result in the box. E.g. for 1 + 3, enter 4.