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Building a dike

Sandbagging Safety Tips for Leaders and Volunteer Workers

Required procedures for sand bag dike construction

A diagram of the construction of a sandbag dike, City of Winnipeg Photo


A diagram of the construction of a sandbag dike, City of Winnipeg Photo

  • Base area of sand bag dike should be clear of snow or ice prior to commencing.
  • To create a more secure dike it is recommended (when possible), a core or cutoff trench be dug (0.3m deep and 0.6m wide) beneath the dike.
  • Leave at least 2.4m between a dike and buildings.
  • Dikes should not be built on decks, patios, fences, planters, gardens, or any potential previous foundation.
  • The base of the dike should be 0.6m wider than the ultimate height of the dike, E.G. Height = 1.2m, base = 1.8m Every second layer of sand bags should be set back 1/4 of a sand bag width, both on the river side and the land side of the dike, giving it a step-like appearance. The top of the dike should be 0.6m wide.
  • Dikes exceeding 1.5m in height should have slopes of 1.5 H/1.0V.
  • The bottom layer of bags on the river side will run parallel with the river.
  • Sand bags are to be tamped firmly into place.
  • It is recommended that 6 mil polyethylene sheets in 3 m wide rolls be used as water proofing on the river side of the dike. The polyethylene sheet should be placed loosely against the sand bag dike during construction with a protective layer of sand bags placed on the river side as indicated in the figure.
  • Have extra sand bags on hand to strengthen any weak spots in the dike.
  • If untied bags are used, the unfilled portion of the sack should be stretched lengthwise and the next bag laid on top of it. This method is known as lapping as indicated in the figure. It is not necessary to tie sacks. Untied bags should be filled to half full.

Video References

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Building a Sandbag Dike Part 1: Locating the Dike
Building a Sandbag Dike Part 2: Sandbagging and Safety
Building a Sandbag Dike Part 3: How to Build the Dike
Number of Sandbags Required - Lengths in feet
Height of dike Length of dike
50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 550 600 650 700
0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0.5 210 430 640 850 1070 1280 1500 1710 1920 2140 2350 2560 2780 2990
1.0 470 950 1420 1900 2370 2850 3320 3800 4270 4750 5220 5700 6170 6650
1.5 780 1570 2350 3130 3920 4700 5480 6270 7050 7830 8620 9400 10190 10970
2.0 1100 2300 3400 4600 5700 6800 8000 9100 10300 11400 12500 13700 14800 16000
2.5 1500 3100 4600 6200 7700 9300 10800 12300 13900 15400 17000 18500 20100 21600
3.0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 14000 16000 17900 19900 21900 23900 25900 27900
3.5 2500 5000 7500 10000 12500 15000 17500 19900 22400 24900 27400 29900 32400 34900
4.0 3000 6100 9100 12200 15200 18200 21300 24300 27400 30400 33400 36500 39500 42500
4.5 3600 7300 10900 14500 18200 21800 25400 29100 32700 36300 40000 43600 47200 50900
5.0 4300 8500 12800 17100 21400 25600 29900 34200 38500 42700 47000 51300 55600 59800
5.5 5000 9900 14900 19800 24800 29800 34700 39700 44700 49600 54600 59500 64500 69500
6.0 5700 11400 17100 22800 28500 34200 39900 45600 51300 57000 62700 68400 74100 79800
Last update: April 1, 2017