Waterway Barriers and Booms Information

Waterway Barriers and BoomsWaterway barriers and waterway booms are safety and security devices that contain debris or spills, restrict vessel and port access, or act as water hazard and dam safety barriers. Some booms are made from UV resistant resin, polyethylene, or an internal core non-water absorbing foam fill. Most booms are custom ordered so lengths and sizes vary.


Types of Waterway Barriers and Booms


Booms work in multiple ways depending on the type of boom. 


Environmental booms used in oil spills are meant to stop the spread of hydrocarbons (oil). They can work by containing the spill to certain areas or they can act as an absorbent which skims oil off the water. The most important characteristic in an oil spill containment boom is its oil containment or deflection capability. Waterway Barriers and BoomsMost oil spill containment booms are not capable of containing oil in currents greater than 0.7 knots that flow at right angles to the boom.  Debris booms are another type of environmental boom. They are used to contain and recover floating trash and vegetation. Debris booms are also used in dam safety by protecting the dam from trees and logs.


Safety booms act as boat barriers for marine safety and to stop drifting and disabled vessels, or for people who had fallen in the water. They are ideal for low-head overflow type dams.


Ice booms allow for the creation of a permanent cover upstream of intakes to reduce ice accumulation and allow for the free flow of water into plant intakes.


Rope booms arrest vessels or victim in the water upstream of a hazard, while also providing an opportunity to escape without the need for help from passers- by, or from emergency services. Pile floats are attached to rope booms which are designed to help victims climb out of the water (hand and foot holds are provided). 


Security booms are for port security, airport security, and perimeter defense. Port security booms are effective for the protection of critical installations and vessels from boat bombers or terrorist craft. Airport security booms are designed to stop watercraft from getting too close to aprons and aircraft movements, particularly when aircraft are passing over water, being parked, or taxiing. Perimeter defense booms protect structures or vessels in high risk areas and for the protection of construction works. The main point of security booms is to act as a buffer and to give authorities time to respond to threats.Waterway Barriers and Booms


Guidance booms or fish guidance booms are designed to speed up migration, minimize entrainment, reduce mortality and stress, and assure that migratory fish will quickly and successfully pass through facilities.




Characteristics to consider when choosing booms are strength, ease and speed of deployment, reliability, weight, and cost. Booms can be used for a variety of water conditions from calm water to choppy water.




Bolina Booms


Worthington Waterway Barriers


Image credits:


Grainger Industrial Supply | New Pig Corporation

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