2022 – Assessing and improving uncertainty in Dam Emergency Response Planning using HEC-LifeSim

Elizabeth Saunders – GHD, Hobart, Tasmania, Dave Rowlings – GHD, Brisbane, Queensland, Rachel Jensen – Sunwater, Brisbane, Queensland, Ross Fryar – GHD, Brisbane, Queensland.

The application of HEC-LifeSim has become a standard analytical technique for the estimation of potential loss of life (PLL) for the purpose of Detailed Consequence Assessments (DCA) and Dam Risk Assessments. However, the software has a broader application where it can be used to better inform, evaluate, and improve emergency planning and response plans for dams.

This paper assesses the validity of using uncertainty plots and sensitivity testing in HEC-LifeSim (Version 2.0) to identify and test parameters driving uncertainty and life loss in the model, which ultimately relate to emergency response planning. Additionally, the paper describes how Emergency Action Plans (EAP), and local government disaster management plans can be modelled in HEC-LifeSim and identifies practical solutions by which dam owners and councils can implement to achieve the benefits demonstrated by the model.

Three anonymised dams which have been the subject of detailed consequence assessments are presented as case studies with the pre-existing HEC-LifeSim models used to test uncertainty. The parameters driving uncertainty and life loss in each model are discussed based on uncertainty plots. Discussions are offered in relation to sensitivity tests undertaken for each dam to determine the extent to which the estimation of life loss can be improved and to help develop practical solutions stakeholders can implement to achieve desired outcomes.

The paper also identifies the need for relevant agencies to work together to successfully implement warning and evacuation measures to improve life loss outcomes in the community.

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