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Risk and Uncertainty Principles for Flood Control Projects - Understanding the Basics

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INSTRUCTOR:  David T. Williams, P.E., PH, CFM, D.WRE, F.ASCE

Sponsored by ASCE Continuing Education and ASCE's Environmental & Water Resources Institute.

Course Length:
1 Hour

Webinar Summary

In the 1990's, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the primary custodians of the U.S. river systems, decided that future flood control projects would be designed based upon Risk and Uncertainty principles (R&U). Although R&U had been utilized in other industries, this was the first time it was to be applied to water resources projects on such a grand scale. This webinar will present the concept of uncertainty (both in nature and in the tools that are used by water resources engineers), principles of R&U in an easily understandable manner and how they are applied to flood control design. It will also explore risk, uncertainty, and probabilistic approaches for hydrologic sciences and engineering.

Primary Discussion Topics

  • Common terms used in risk, uncertainty and R&U analysis
  • Uncertainty principles applied to hydrology and hydraulics
  • Use of R&U in water resources studies and design
  • Applications of R&U for levee design

Learning Objectives

  • Determine the differences between the types of uncertainties
  • Learn how R&U is used in water resources projects and specifically levee design
  • Understand how PDFs are transformed to CDFs and how they are used in R&U analysis
  • Comprehend how uncertainties in hydrology and hydraulics are interrelated

Webinar Benefits

  • Distinguish between natural and human induced uncertainty
  • Find out how FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers view R&U analysis
  • Discover the sources of uncertainty and how they affect risk
  • Ascertain the benefits of R&U analysis versus the traditional methods
  • See how to define uncertainty in hydrology and hydraulics

Webinar Outline

  • Definitions of risk and uncertainty
  • Relationship between risk and uncertainty
  • Types of uncertainty
  • Definitions used in uncertainty analysis
  • The Monte Carlo method
  • What are PDFs and CDFs
  • How is R&U used in water resources
  • Uncertainty in hydrology
  • Uncertainty in hydraulics
  • Applications of R&U to levee design and the reasons

Target Audience

  • Hydrologists
  • Hydraulic engineers
  • Project engineers/managers of flood control projects