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Utilizing Levee Fragility Curves to Develop Flood Hazard Maps

Introduction
Levee fragility curves can be used in the Central Valley flood studies to develop flood
hazard maps with the FLO-2D model. An algorithm using the Corps’ levee fragility curves has
been coded in the FLO-2D model to automatically predict levee breach failure anywhere in the
levee system. This FLO-2D levee failure component with fragility curves represents a linkage
between a geotechnical risk model and prediction of the water surface elevations with a flood
routing model. It is a link between levee geotechnical performance and flood routing hydraulics.
It also implicitly defines levee risk of failure for hazard mapping.
Background
Levee core and shell material may vary significantly in levee systems especially where
older levee reaches do not conform to existing construction standards. As a result, levee failure
is difficult to predict in both time and space. Levees often fail before the flood waters reach the
levee crest elevation due to geotechnical flaws that initiate piping. Often a piping failure may
expand to a complete breach in a relatively short period of time while the flood is still rising.
The Corps of Engineers use a levee failure risk model that incorporates the probability of levee
geotechnical failure as function of flood water surface elevation. This model is known as a levee
fragility curve (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Example of Levee Fragility Curves for Typical Sacramento River Basin Levees
(From the Corps of Engineers, Comprehensive Study, 2002)
The levee fragility curves specify the relationship between the probability of levee failure
and the water surface elevation (or likely failure stage) below the levee crest. The elevation
corresponding to a 50% failure probability can be selected as the likely failure point and can be
used to initiate levee failures in the Corps hydraulic models. In the FLO-2D model, the levee
breach failure may include piping, slope stability and under seepage. The fragility curves are
based on a geotechnical investigation of the existing levee system involving construction
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It has a levee breach erosion component that can initiate breaching anywhere in the levee system based on water surface elevation.00 0.00 0.85 6.50 4. levee soil composition. The first column is the curve reference name. foundation conditions.15 15.5 . A piping failure can initiate anywhere in the levee system that water surface reaches a prescribed distance below the crest. and laboratory testing.50 6.0 0.15 5. Fragility Curve ID.5 0.0 0.95 0. FS1 FS1 FS1 FS1 FS1 FS2 FS2 FS2 FS2 FS2 FS3 FS3 FS3 FS3 FS3 FS4 FS4 FS4 FS4 0.0 0.5 P P P P P P P 3450 3558 3559 3669 3670 3782 3783 FS1 FS1 FS2 FS3 FS4 FC1 FS1 2 0.15 9.5 0.0 1. When combined with the user assigned fragility curves.0 0. When these fragility curves are applied with the FLO-2D flood routing model using the levee breach erosion component.0 0.0 0.98 0.85 1.0 0.85 4. in situ (borings).85 2.50 9.0 0. Probability of Failure Example: C FS3 0.03 12. Future fragility curves can be based on levee geotechnical investigations including field inspection.0 0. At the present time. levee failure location and time of occurrence can be predicted.0 0. the model can locate the levee failure anywhere based on a user selected probability of failure.0 0. existing Central Valley fragility curves are based primarily on engineering judgment and represent a qualitative approach to evaluating levee integrity.15 3.5 0. and third column is the distance below the levee crest in feet or meters (y-axis).03 9. the second column is the probability of failure (x-axis Figure 1).0 0.50 2.5 0.5 0. The levee fragility curves are read directly by the FLO-2D model in a discretized rating table format for a set of curves as shown below.5 0.5 0. FLO-2D was uniquely suited to utilizing the levee fragility curves.3 0.0 Application of the Levee Fragility Curves in the FLO-2D Model The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) can apply the levee fragility curves in the Central Valley Floodplain Evaluation and Delineation project to delineate and map potential flood hazards. This component conceptually emulates the National Weather Service Breach Model but has numerous improvements.03 6. Through the physical process of sediment transport. the pipe breach will expand to a channel breach and collapse as the levee erodes. Fragility Curve ID. and other factors.9 0.methods.7 0. 0.0 1. The extent of in-situ testing and laboratory testing (cohensive strength. Probability of Failure (eg. compaction and other tests) will determine the reliability of the fragility curves. The following levee fragility curve data is assigned by the user in the FLO-2D model: Global Levee Data: Line ID. Grid Element.50) Individual Levee Data: Line ID.

This data assignment enables the user to specify either global fragility curve data for the entire levee system or individual levee grid elements or reaches of levee fragility curves in the FLO-2D model in a spatially variable analysis. A series of FLO-2D simulations with different failure probability assignments (eg. The area of predicted area inundation could be evaluated for flood damages and assigned risk. 10%. the levee embankment extends from the red FLO-2D grid system boundary to the urban area in the center of the image. geotechnical levee characteristics and flood routing hydraulics for a spatial assessment of levee failure corresponding with the actual floodwave progression. The assignment of the different levels of failure probability will result in different locations of the levee breach. Through volume conservation in the FLO-2D model. Figure 2. different areas of inundation will be predicted. The FLO-2D fragility curve method combines flood risk. Left: Levee Breaches Expanding) Benefits of Using the Levee Fragility Curves for Flood Hazard Mapping The levee fragility curves define the relationship between geotechnical and flood hazard as well as identify the levee risk associated with potential levee failure. FLO-2D Fragility Curve Modeling Results When the levee fragility curves are applied to a levee system. In this figure. The breach expands in the FLO-2D model until the rate of sediment transport from the breach decreases. By assigning different levee fragility curves and levee failure probability in the levee system. the results show that the levee breach can occur anywhere in the system at varying times depending of the selection of the fragility curve and the prescribe probability of failure. The pipe erosion expands to a breach channel when the pipe roof collapses and escalates to a full breach when breach the channel side slopes collapse. The area of inundation will be much greater if the likely failure point was assumed to be 10% than 50%. 3 . FLO-2D Levee Breach Simulation in Progress Using Levee Fragility Curves (Right: Levee Simultaneously Breaching in 2 Locations. The FLO-2D levee breach model initiates piping when the predicted unconfined flood water reached the prescribed elevation for a defined duration. Figure 2 shows a FLO-2D simulation of levee breaching in progressing at two locations at the same time based on variable assignment of the levee fragility curves. 50% and 90%) will identify the area of inundation associated with the geotechnical confidence of the levee. the flooding through a levee breach in one location may reduce the potential for complete levee breaches or even breach initiation elsewhere in the levee system where the levee may be weak. This represents a significant step in accurate hazard mapping.