Building for Resilience

The ongoing challenge of floodwater

MARKHAM has been involved in #AddingLifeToConcrete for many years now.

One focus of our durability and remediation treatments has been marine structures. As we’ve noted elsewhere, the marine environment – with its high contaminant levels, and wet-dry cycles – poses particular risks to concrete.

In the light of the recent flooding in the east of Australia, we’d like to extend that conversation to other at-risk structures.

Flooding is in fact a comparatively frequent occurrence in many places. The term ‘100 year event’ is often used as a means of sensationalizing what’s happening today, but it doesn’t stand up to big-picture scrutiny. We firmly believe there needs to be more preparedness, more readiness, for flood events in Australia. Australia has been a land of droughts and flooding rains for a very long time; longer than the European presence, or the industrial age.

Nor is New Zealand exempt. There have been some spectacular instances in recent years, but the combination of the island weather patterns and mountainous territory lends itself to flash flooding in deep river channels.


Acknowledging that an area is prone to periodic flooding will change the conversation about what types of structures will be built there, and how they will be shaped. Is it sensible to put housing in a given zone of a flood plain or valley? What materials should be used when building? Can the operational portions of the structure be elevated above known flood heights? It may not be possible to predict factors of a given event, such as water heights, but risk can be reduced, and recovery made easier.

A lot of that discussion is outside the scope of Markham’s work, but here’s a couple of things we can bring to the table.

How MARKHAM can help

In the context of what we do at MARKHAM, we’re narrowing this conversation to concrete structures – not their contents or non-concrete parts, although some of the same elements of approach will apply.

Designing a new structure? Protect it from day one. Enhance the impermeability using concrete hydrogel admixture and surface application. Prevent the entrance and activity of contaminants. Minimize cracking at the curing stage.

Caring for an existing structure? Hydrogel treatments can be retro-applied to exposed surfaces. This is not so useful for hidden concrete; however, if you have access to support pillars etc. these can be assessed and treated.

Act early! Early protection is best.

If you’re involved in the design and construction of concrete infrastructure, we’re keen to chat about your project needs!

Photo by Phillip Flores on Unsplash

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