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Call to Action Progress and Issues. Lewis E (Ed) Link, PhD Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Maryland. Early Flood Risk Management. Historical Approach. Living with Floods. Current Practice. Flood Control. Deterministic Extrapolation. Flood Risk Management.

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call to action progress and issues

Call to ActionProgress and Issues

Lewis E (Ed) Link, PhD

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of Maryland


Historical Approach

Living with Floods

Current Practice

Flood Control

Deterministic Extrapolation

Flood Risk Management

Emerging Approaches

Risk-Informed Extrapolation

Risk Reduction

(+ community resilience)

Long Term goals

corps of engineers water resources infrastructure deterioration investment or divestment nrc 2012
Corps of Engineers Water Resources Infrastructure: Deterioration, Investment or DivestmentNRC, 2012
  • “Funding streams in the U S federal budget over the past 20 years consistently have been inadequate to maintain all of the infrastructure at acceptable levels of performance and efficiency.”
  • “WRDA was developed when new water project construction was at a high point, it was not designed to deal with OMR issues and priorities.”

Hurricane Hazard

500-year peak surge

100-year peak surge

missouri river basin annual runoff above sioux city iowa
Missouri River Basin - Annual Runoff above Sioux City, Iowa

1 Maf = 1233 Mm3




1881 Flood = Design Criteria



The Project Design Flood consists of 3 historical rainfall events

    • One of the main premises for the PDF rainfall events was that the combination of events had to be considered plausible from a meteorological viewpoint and that they had to have a reasonable probability of occurrence.
    • The three rainfall events determined for the PDF consisted of the:
      • 6-24 January 1937 storm (top left) over all areas with the rainfall excess increased by ten percent
      • Followed four days later by the 3-16 January 1950 storm (top right)
      • Three days later by the 14-18 February 1938 storm (bottom) transposed 90 miles northward and rotated 20º.

Total PDF Precipitation

Observed Apr 19-May 4 2011


  • Comparison between the Project Design Flood (PDF) Precipitation events and the observed 2011 precipitation event.:
  • The PDF occurred in 3 events.
    • The axis of maximum precipitation for the PDF was along and south of the Ohio River.
    • Maximum rainfall totals for PDF were 24-32” over KY and along the Ohio River
  • The 2011 precipitation event occurred during 2 events 4/19-4/28 and 5/1-5/4.
    • The axis of maximum precipitation for the 2011 event was along and just north of the Ohio River in unregulated areas.
    • Maximum rainfall totals for 2011 event were 12-24” along and just north of the Ohio River.
    • It should be noted that stages at Cairo were elevated (+10ft or 127% of normal) at the onset of the 2011 rainfall event due to heavy rains in late Feb/early Mar that produced a crest of 53.41’ on 3/18.

Floodways and Backwater Areas

2011 Flood (of Record)


69% PDF Rainfall

~ 500,000 cfs snowmelt

= 80% of PDF discharge


55% Spillway capacity

20 % Backwater storage

!00% channel Improvements


Repair of structures

Restoration of floodways






  • Acceptable Risk Policy
  • (Consider three views):
  • Personal Risk (equity)
  • Societal Risk (efficiency)
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Group Risk
  • Policy factors

In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Eric Hoffer

  • “You’re going to have to wait (on probabilistic approaches) until the current generation dies off.”
    • Prof. Ron Hirschfeld, MIT, 1972