Rafting business makes tubes to divert flood waters

The process is the same used to make whitewater rafts.

MERIDIAN - Flooding remains a major concern across the Treasure Valley.

Emergency officials are taking steps to prevent water from flowing into homes, businesses and streets. Those steps include building barriers.

One barrier put in place along the Boise River last week was made by a local company known nationally for making whitewater rafts - AIRE Industrial in Meridian.

“AIRE is more widely known for manufacturing whitewater rafts and kayaks, that's kind of our core business and how it all started,” said Sheena Coles, marketing manager for AIRE.

That’s what put AIRE into business several decades ago. Then back in the early 2000s, the company figured they have the equipment and capacity to manufacture other products.

“We have got heat welding and sewing capabilities, so the same machines that we use to weld our whitewater boats is the same we use to weld our industrial products,” said Coles.

From there AIRE developed diversion tubes, which are filled with water and serve as a flood barrier. It’s their only product designed to fight flooding and was primarily used on a smaller residential scale until now.

“As the spring time started to hit, our engineers started developing up bigger ones, then our engineers got on the phone with Ada County and that's where we honed in on the sizes we needed for that product,” said Coles.

MORE: Ada County installs flood diversion tube

One example is a diversion tube that when filled with water is two-feet high and 20-feet long. The ones put in place along the Boise River by the Sunroc gravel pit are three-feet tall and 40-feet long. They laid enough to cover 600 feet along the Boise River.

“Since it has been installed we have seen water on river side running about one-foot, a-foot-and-a-half onto the tube, and on the dry side it's down to a trickle,” said Tim Lewis, director of sales and marketing. “A 40-foot tube, you can compare that to about 60,000 sandbags, so we are removing that much sand and labor by putting up just one tube.”

AIRE Industrial is in the process of sending tubes to Ketchum, Sun Valley and Bellevue, where flooding is also a concern.

This tube, which is about half the size of the ones linked together on the Boise River, holds 2,500 gallons of water.

AIRE Industrial also makes much smaller tubes for residents to put on their patios that are only about six inches high when filled.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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