Structural flood management measures

dikes and walls


Structural flood management measures are measures, which are taken to protect people and property, that counteracts the flood event in order to reduce the hazard or to influence the course or probability of occurrence of the event.


In the past, flood management was in gererall restricted to a pathway control through dikes and walls.


Examples of structural flood management measures are:


Structural flood management measures often are not an adequate answer. The disadvantage of this strategy is its finiteness of effectiveness. For flood events above the design flood the structures will loose their containment function and even cause a more disastrous flood through the breaching of dikes. Examples for the effectiveness of existing structural measures are the recent flood events (Europe 2006, New Orleans 2005, Asia 2004).

The probability of these events of failure will increase in the future due to climate change. Entrapped by the present practice, water authorities react on this increasing residual flood risk with the intention to raise the height of the dike. But dike rising is not flexible enough to cope with the uncertainty of climate change because dike raising is:

  • cost intensive,
  • needs long implementation periods,
  • has a strong impact on ecology
  • and the projections of climate change are too uncertain for deriving assured design high water levels.

As a consequence of the paradigm change in flood management structural measures are no longer regarded as necessarily being the best solution to manage flooding. In fact, failure response strategies (non-structural mitigation measures), which control the pathway behind the dike and/or the vulnerability of the built environment, infrastructure and population in the Hinterland are favoured.

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Flood management measures






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