Failures of flood defences (here also named levees) cause major catastrophes in terms of loss of life, and economic damage. Despite extensive research on geotechnical failure mechanisms such as instability, piping or overflow- induced breaching, considerable uncertainties in failure modelling and prediction remain. The objectives of the project – SAFElevee: Improving the reliability of flood defence systems by a better understanding of their failure mechanisms - are (a) to improve the understanding of (geotechnical) failure mechanisms and breaching of flood defence systems, (b) to enhance reliability analysis and design of safe levee systems, and c) to provide systematically collected datasets for future scientific research.

Figure 1. Levee Failure (Breitenhagen, Germany, June 2013). Left: initial stage of the failure process, probable cause was instability. Right: breach in progress.

The project is structured within four work packages. These are as follows:

  • Analyses of levee performance data, identification of failure patterns and its most important factors
  • Detailed Geotechnical and probabilistic analyses and hindcasting of individual levee failures with sufficient date available
  • Development of  more accurate models and theories for breach initiation and formation by using information from historical breaches ad large-scale field experiments
  • Setting up the International Levee Performance Database (ILPD) which will document failure and performance data on flood defence systems. It will be compiled and used by all researchers in the project, also in collaboration with international academic institutes with the SAFElevee project. Thereby a cooperative knowledge platform on levee safety will be created, which is also a basis for future research and cooperation

SAFElevee will contribute to utilization in the field of delta technology in various ways. The project will complement existing approaches for assessing levee failures (e.g. expensive field tests) at relatively low cost. The research be applicable for future Dutch and international projects that aim to develop models and tools for levee design and safety assessment. The project is aiming to contribute to more effective and innovative levee reinforcements and large potential cost savings, through a better understanding of performance and failure modes. To maximize utilization potential, the SAFElevee project is positioned within a collaborative network of academia, governmental organisations, and private companies. A dissemination workshop with partners on findings on future opportunities will be organized as part of the project. Overall, the SAFElevee project will establish a cooperative data and knowledge platform for governments, researchers and companies in the field of levee safety in a broad range of programs, now and in the future.

Current research team composed of the following members including institutions and private companies:

  • PhD’s: Burak Akbas, Isil Ece Ozer
  • PostDoc: Myron van Damme
  • Principal investigators: Bas Jonkman, Timo Schweckendiek

TU Delft - Dijkproeven langs de Schelde

SAFElevee Partners