2018 – Performance of U.S. Federal Flood Protection Systems from 2010 through 2017

Nathan J. Snorteland, P.E., David A. Margo, P.E.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for flood risk management across the United States. USACE has more than 710 dams and is responsible for more than 24,000 kilometres of levees. Since 2008, USACE projects have prevented more than AU$1.2 Trillion (in 2017 dollars) in damages from flooding. Although some of this came as a result of dozens of smaller floods, much of that protection came during three events within the last five years. From 2010 through 2017, the U.S. has had three major inland floods and two coastal events where federal flood protection exists: in 2010 on the Cumberland River, in 2011 on the Missouri, Ohio, White, and Mississippi Rivers, in 2015 on several rivers in Texas and Oklahoma, and in 2017 along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. and its territories in the Caribbean. For many of these locations, these events produced record rainfall and the flood of record. USACE operated many large facilities on these systems and those systems overall performed as expected. However, USACE also experienced some operational issues, did a substantial amount of flood fighting, had several incidents, and several failures. This paper will describe the flooding experienced in those events, the operations of the flood protection systems, the performance overall, and some of the lessons learned.

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