2017 – Observations from Five Australian Applications of HEC-LifeSim to Estimate Potential Loss of Life from Dam Failure

Chriselyn Kavanagh, Simon Lang, Andrew Northfield, Peter Hill

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have recently releasedHEC-LifeSim1.0, a dynamic simulation model for estimating life loss from severe flooding (Fields, 2016). In contrast to the empirical models that are often used to estimate life loss from dam failure, HEC-LifeSim explicitly models the warning and mobilisation of the population at risk, and predicts the spatial distribution of fatalities across the structures and transport networks expected to be inundated. This capability provides additional insights to dam owners that can be used to better understand and reduce the life safety risks posed by large dams. In this paper, we demonstrate the use of HEC-LifeSim to model the potential loss of life from failure of five large Australian dams. Particular attention is paid to how the predicted life loss varies with warning time, in a manner that depends on human response and the transport network’s capacity for mass evacuations, and the modelled severity of flooding. We also examine how the HEC-LifeSim estimates of life loss compare with those from the empirical Reclamation Consequence Estimating Methodology (RCEM).

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