Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019DC049B

Risk Assessment of Levees in the Face of Flood Hazards in the District of Columbia

Institute: District of Columbia
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-03-01 End Date: 2020-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $9,966 Total Non-Federal Funds: $13,644

Principal Investigators: Lei Wang

Abstract: In recent years, the nation has experienced a rapid increase in the number and magnitude of major hurricane hazards (e.g., Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, and Michael), which cause flooding of many metropolitan areas and impose a tremendous risk to lives, society, and built environment. Levees are critical engineering infrastructure serving as a key flood prevention system of many flood-prone communities around the nation. The collapse of these structures can be catastrophic and cause significant loss of life and damage to properties and infrastructures, especially to the coastal and riverside cities such as Washington DC. It is crucially important for evaluating the safety of the levees for risk informed decisions to mitigate flood hazards. This research aims to develop a risk assessment methodology for levees in the face of flood hazards for Metropolitan DC. The specific objectives of this research are to: (1) Develop a numerical model for seepage and stability analysis of levees using the finite element method; (2) Formulate a risk assessment framework for levees in the face of flood hazards based on rigorous reliability and probabilistic methods, and (3) Demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework for levee system in the District of Columbia. The developed risk assessment framework can enable a more informed decision making for the stakeholders (e.g., engineers, administrators, public officials, policy makers) considering the reliability of the levee infrastructure against flood hazards and the risk and consequence of damages to the community affected by levees. The proposed research is expected to have a significant impact to the water resources engineering field by providing an effective tool for risk assessment of critical water resource infrastructure in the District of Columbia. It can also promote the public awareness of risk and resilience of critical water resource infrastructure. This project is expected to provide an excellent opportunity for training undergraduate and graduate students at the University of the District of Columbia. Graduate student supported by this project has the chance to learn and develop advanced risk and reliability techniques for evaluating the effects of flood hazards on the urban levee infrastructure.