Focus Areas

Risk Assessment

Characterizing water-related risk to inform strategy and minimize adverse outcomes

Risks associated with both high-flow events and extended droughts are of significant and growing concern in nearly all parts of the world. Communities are vulnerable not only to direct impacts of flood and drought, such as inundation or restricted water supplies, but also to indirect impacts resulting from infrastructure failure. Reservoirs, impoundments and other infrastructures provide critical flood control and water storage benefits; however, these areas are also susceptible to damage or failure under extreme conditions.

Recognizing this, managers regularly assess the safety and reliability of their systems and allocate funds for improvements, such as rehabilitation or new construction. Competing needs, however, make funding those improvements a challenge; therefore, managers need tools to quantify risk and prioritize the capital improvements that will reduce the most risk in their systems. At the RTI Center for Water Resources, our hydrologic risk assessment services support planning-scale decisions related to public safety, water security, dam safety and capital improvement.

Our experts are recognized leaders in advanced methods for probabilistic hydrologic risk assessment. For example, we have years of experience supporting dam safety programs across multiple organizations. For these programs, we conduct analyses on the probability of flood hazards to simulate hydrologic and reservoir operation responses, and we use thousands of simulated storm events to develop hydrologic hazard curves. We also perform dam failure consequence analyses that measure economic damage and loss of life through hydraulic modeling, flood mapping and consequence tools. These services support risk-informed decision-making so that you can focus your capital improvement efforts on the critical issues that are most likely to have significant consequences. We apply similar advanced probabilistic approaches to assess long-term risk and vulnerability in water supply systems given highly uncertain future conditions.

Our risk assessment services include the following:

  • Probabilistic flood hazards and drought analyses
  • Dam failure consequence analyses of economic damage and life loss
  • Rapid risk screening on large portfolio of dams
  • Dam breach analyses and inundation mapping
  • Probable Maximum Flood and Inflow Design Flood studies
  • Development of flood maps for emergency action plans
  • Analyses of water supply risks under deep uncertainty

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