2023 – Validation of LifeSim PLL Estimates to Australian Flood Events

Elizabeth Saunders, Dave Rowlings, Adam Broit

LifeSim, developed by the Risk Management Centre at USACE, has become the standard software for estimating Potential Loss of Life (PLL) in high-risk Australian dams. However, there has been limited effort to validate the models using historical Australian flood events. This paper argues that while it may not always be possible to validate a LifeSim model against historical Australian events, validating specific input parameters should be considered best practice, especially when rare historic floods have occurred. The paper consolidates existing knowledge and insights to provide a comprehensive approach for modelers in this undertaking.

The paper outlines an approach for validating LifeSim models. It delves into parameters related to dam breach warning zones, warning and mobilization curves, no failure warning times, structure fatalities, and road fatalities. The need to validate these parameters within an Australian context is highlighted, drawing attention to discrepancies between American-derived inputs and Australian conditions.

The lack of published Australian LifeSim validations can be attributed to the time-cost associated with this undertaking and the confidentiality in consequence assessment, where these models are typically applied However, the paper underscores the industry’s urgent need for such validations to establish parameter sets specific to Australian catchments or at the very least verify that the validation studies undertaken by USACE are reasonable when applied in Australia.

Ultimately, the paper calls for increased collaboration and data sharing among Australian LifeSim user group and industry-wide adoption of LifeSim model validation as standard practice in consequence assessments for Australian dam safety.

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