Yellowstone Valley Electric Co-op employees set up "Muscle Wall" barrier to prevent floodwaters from damaging co-op facilities.
Photo courtesy of YVEC
Many rural electric cooperatives are located in territories prone to flooding. This year, in preparing for the melting of a snow pack 400 percent of normal, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative in Montana replaced the traditional sandbag barriers with a new product called “Muscle Wall.” The cooperative found that Muscle Wall was easier to set up and proved just as effective.
YVEC had reason to be concerned about the flooding: the co-op has a service center and a substation 200 yards from the Yellowstone River. The co-op had recently invested $3 million in both facilities.
Days prior to the expected cresting of the river, the co-op learned about Muscle Wall, a modular barrier created by linking together low-density polyethylene wall sections that are filled with water.
The advantages are significant: one 4’ x 6’ section of muscle wall replaces 468 sandbags. Barriers can therefore be set up in much less time by fewer people. Cooperative employees set up the barriers. In addition, the flexibility and convenience of the modular design, allowed the co-op to set up a barrier inside the substation.
The co-op succeeded in protecting both the service station and substation using the new product, which had been ordered and shipped in a matter of days.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed thirty percent of the co-op’s investment in the reusable flood mitigation product. Yellowstone is the first business to buy this product in Montana.