The committee envisions a future in which dam and levee safety professionals (e.g., owners, operators, and regulators) and the broader public are active, collaborative, and mutually committed participants in efforts to enhance public safety and community resilience. This vision includes mitigation and emergency preparedness efforts that are the traditional focus of dam and levee safety professionals; more importantly, it calls for dam and levee safety professionals to understand and become more involved in their communities. By broadly engaging with other community members and stakeholders, these professionals can identify their individual and common needs and the actions necessary to meet those needs, and increase resilience to dam and levee infrastructure failure. Such interaction will require participation in new or existing collaborative processes designed to meet the mutual needs of and provide benefits to all the community (including themselves) as part of the working fabric of a community.
Such a vision is achievable when all dam and levee professionals, other community members, and stakeholders more broadly recognize the mutual benefits and increased social capital to be gained through participation in processes that enhance community resilience. The vision is achievable only through an expansion of traditional dam and levee safety practice coupled with changes on the part of policy makers and the broader public to recognize the benefits of dam and levee infrastructure. This kind of evolution cannot occur rapidly; it will require incremental changes and improvements in safety program processes.
Advances in dam safety practices over the last four decades provide an excellent foundation for a community engagement approach to greater resilience. This chapter defines a vision and framework for dam and levee safety professionals to become engaged participants in enhancing the resilience of their communities.
A previous National Research Council report (NRC, 2011a) concluded that a framework for increasing community resilience will likely be more successful if designed by representatives of the entire community. Table 2.1 lists the elements of the community with a stake in dam and levee performance, and therefore the elements to be engaged. However, the committee observes that dam and levee professionals often operate their programs independently of other community functions and fail to understand the value of social engagement or social capital for their programs. Until they recognize the benefits of community engagement, improvements in resilience to dam and levee failure will be minimal. It is essential that dam and levee professionals engage with the broader community to identify shared goals and resources, and to collaboratively develop strategies and processes to support resilience. Simply put, a new dam and levee safety norm is needed. This means moving beyond the boundaries of regulatory compliance. Box 4.1 provides an example of how some in the dam and levee profession have begun the evolution toward new operational norms. The committee expects such norms will become community expectations of its dam and levee professionals.
New Societal Expectations
The ability of industry, government, and infrastructure owners to meet evolving societal expectations can be demonstrated by the response to recent demands for greater sustainability and environmental stewardship. For example, the U.S. General Services Administration now requires Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for all new or substantially renovated federal buildings,1 and other groups are voluntarily seeking LEED certification in new construction. The dam community can be similarly responsive to societal expectations. Public-utility districts in Washington state, for example, have engaged with state and federal fisheries agencies, Native American groups, and state and federal wildlife agencies to develop 50-year hydropower habitat conservation plans to protect local fish populations through environmental restoration, fish bypass and spill systems, and offsite hatcheries.2 The goal is to ensure that sustainable hydropower will be available without compromising fish resources. Not long ago, few dam owners placed great importance on wildlife protection. Now, wildlife protection is a legal requirement, a normal part of engineering practice, and often publicly touted by dam owners as evidence of good community citizenship and environmental stewardship.
As communities become more aware of the benefits of creating, sustaining, and increasing community resilience, and more aware of the benefits and risks associated with
Interview with Robert A. Turner, Jr., Regional Director, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East
Shirley Laska, of the University of New Orleans Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology, conducted an interview with Robert A. Turner, Jr., regional director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPAE)a on November 1, 2011, to learn about his approach to flood risk reduction.
According to its website, the mission of the SLFPAE "is to ensure the physical and operational integrity of the regional flood risk management system, and to work with local, regional, state, and federal partners to plan, design, and construct projects that will reduce the probability and risk of flooding for the residents within our jurisdiction." The SLFPAE process of levee inspection and information dissemination has been evolving to make information more accessible to residents. Levee inspections have become more rigorous, and the levee district plans to migrate from a paper to a digital system, creating a levee information management system. The district plans eventually to launch a user-friendly website that allows more sophisticated oversight.
According to Turner, part of the authority's strategic plan is to “actively communicate to the public the risks that exist with current and proposed flood protection strategies.” Turner described SLFPAE stakeholders as having “a vested interest in levees … people who live and work and own businesses in the areas…. All of the taxpayers have a vested interest in what happens to our levees.”
Turner sees that he has a role in land-use planning by influencing change, although he admits that he does not have the authority to make changes. “We can give decision makers the benefit of our knowledge, for example about risk [and] consequences. Our role is more about trying to inform those decision makers of the appropriateness of their decisions.”
Turner has been the regional director of SLFPAE since 2007 and was executive director of the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District from 2001 to 2007. He was asked how his viewpoint about risk reduction has changed since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Turner said that before Hurricane Katrina, “I saw myself as leading the charge to build levees better. My views on that have changed. I now believe in a more integrated approach to deal with flood safety…. Smarter is to try to do the best we can with money available for structures, but that effort has to be integrated with all of the other things. I never thought that was the case, but obvious. Since Katrina, there is no other way to think about it. Levees can't provide all of the protection. For example, if we can't address coastal issues—coastal restoration—then the levee system will degrade…. [The] only way to keep risk from rising is to work on the other things we can affect, i.e., people's behavior. I never thought I would have to say: 'buy flood insurance.'”
dam and levee infrastructure, more social and legal pressures will be placed on dam and levee owners to participate in and inform efforts to enhance community resilience. When the owners work with their communities to identify shared community risks, resources, and appropriate disaster mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery measures, they have the opportunity to help shape societal expectations and solutions. As the nation moves forward
to develop and implement a national resilience strategy (e.g., NRC, 2012), there is motivation for dam and levee owners to engage early and comprehensively in community efforts.
Dam and levee owners (and many others) may not be knowledgeable generally of the social capital basis for community resilience (e.g., the role of community decision making in resilience). Because metrics for measuring success of resilience-enhancing efforts are not available, many owners may choose to wait and see what new requirements and metrics will evolve with respect to resilience, especially as national efforts to develop a resilience strategy continue. However, societal demands for community resilience-related action will likely precede the implementation of a national strategy. Dam and levee owners can take advantage of lessons learned from tackling some dam safety and environmental issues and developing emergency action plans (EAPs) in collaboration with other community members.
Moving Beyond Regulatory Compliance
The dam safety community has evolved substantially toward stronger regulatory and owner (public and private) dam safety programs. Generally, however, regulatory compliance as defined in legislative mandates and safety standards remains the driving motivator for dam safety regulators and private and public dam owners. Regulations are established to achieve minimum safety levels for built infrastructure, but compliance alone does not necessarily ensure reliability and safety of dams and levees Failures occur, sometimes for reasons not considered in the original design or because of unforeseen circumstances.
Just as regulatory compliance alone does not ensure dam and levee safety, compliance alone may not be consistent with owner interests (e.g., system efficiency, operational reliability, and profitability), with good stewardship of community resources (e.g., water and the environment), or with reduction in owner liability. Demonstrating compliance with regulations does not necessarily protect an owner from litigation if infrastructure failure results in damages or loss of life. And it does not build the social capital discussed in Chapter 2 that can result in desired community or economic outcomes. Even in light of those limitations, it is easy to anticipate the dam safety community’s reluctance to adopt practices that move beyond regulatory compliance in the interest of increasing community resilience. The benefits of progressive actions need to be identified and balanced against cost, liability, and other concerns that become institutional impediments.
Given the lack of federal or state regulatory structure with respect to levee safety, meeting even minimum safety standards is difficult for the levee professional community. In such a situation, it is even more important for levee professionals, especially levee owners, to broadly consider costs and benefits to all affected by decisions related to levee infrastructure design, construction, and maintenance.
Incentives for Dam and Levee Professionals
The committee recognizes that a commitment by dam and levee professionals (and all stakeholders for that matter) to processes that build community resilience is a major undertaking, especially if resilience-related concepts and practices are unfamiliar. The benefits of and incentives for active participation are, admittedly, not readily apparent or quantified. Nonetheless, many public and private organizations are familiar with the merit of participating in pursuits that build goodwill in the community (e.g., community charities and buying and hiring locally) or that would be in the category of being good “corporate citizens” (in the case of private organizations). Although it is difficult to quantify, it is easy to recognize the value to dam and levee safety professionals and the broader community of having the ability to avoid, or recover as soon as possible from, the effects of a disaster such as might result from dam or levee failure (e.g., Rexford, Idaho, after the Teton Dam failure in 1976 or New Orleans after the levee failures that occurred during Hurricane Katrina in 2005). With this in mind, the committee discusses here some benefits of and incentives for engaging in collaborative processes to build resilient communities.
Initial incentives for private and public dam and levee owners to collaborate in resilience-enhancing processes may include increased profitability, decreased liability, increased trust in and of the broader community, goodwill, and recognition as good community citizens. For dam and levee safety regulators, whose principal responsibility is public safety, engaging in community resilience-building processes is an opportunity to support the public-safety mandate. As dam and levee owners mature in their roles as participants in community resilience-building efforts, the opportunity to contribute to and influence specific community planning and decision making (e.g., with respect to emergency management and recovery) and broader decision making (e.g., for land-use planning) can be further incentives. Building the case for participating in community resilience efforts and moving them into the mainstream of dam and levee safety practice may be difficult, but it presents an opportunity for federal agencies and professional associations involved in dam and levee safety. Efforts will be most effective if initiated from within the profession, possibly with the assistance of federal agencies.
Benefits of Community Engagement
Collaborative networks form because those engaged in collaboration recognize that individual and collective goals are more likely to be met through collaborative, rather than individual, efforts (NRC, 2011a). The need for partnering and collaboration is recognized by the federal government (see, e.g., DHS, 2009) and in the literature of many fields, including collaborative management (e.g., McGuire, 2006), emergency management (e.g., Waugh and Streib, 2006), public health (e.g., Butterfoss, 2007), and public administration
(e.g., Vigoda, 2002). The idea of collaboration is not new in the world of flood management. The Netherlands, for example, recommended the development of a European Union flood protection program with a goal of promoting collaboration among neighboring countries to examine the risk and appropriate measures against flood surges. Within the Netherlands itself, a collaborative approach to risk identification and management is being adopted (MTPWWM, 2008). In the examples above, collaboration is a means of managing complex systems with numerous interdependences that could not adequately be understood by a single entity or person. Collaboration is a means of making a complex network stronger, more efficient, and more resilient.
In many respects, resilience is a somewhat intangible goal with few direct metrics available for measuring success (short of observed responses to actual dam or levee failure). Thus, dam and levee owners and engineers may find it difficult to embrace the benefits of the many seemingly intangible steps needed to increase resilience. The intermediate steps—for example, building trusted collaborative networks—are vital and beneficial milestones toward identifying mutual needs and taking required actions to meet them. Box 4.2 illustrates some benefits derived from resilience-building efforts for dam and levee owners. Many of them are associated with corresponding benefits to the broader community (some listed in the table). They are all examples that will facilitate risk awareness, risk reduction, and increased resilience for communities.
Many other benefits may exist, and still others may be community specific. Roles for the federal government may be to help identify and communicate the general benefits of resilience-focused collaboration, and to help identify and communicate benefits specific to individual communities. Ultimately, the federal government could channel relevant information, examples, and data from the state and local levels that represent best practices and results and could serve as examples and incentives.
Engagement and Selection of Processes
Effectively engaging a community on issues related to community resilience involves more than making presentations to city councils, town boards, or similar community bodies. Those interactions are encouraged, can be made more robust, and be initiated more frequently to seek other forms of collaboration. Dam and levee professionals may already interact with numerous public officials, both elected and appointed (e.g., emergency management directors), but could seek out other community representatives to expand discussions. Some interactions—at least those in which federal water management professionals participate—may already employ decision-making processes such as those established in the well-known principles and guidance (P&G), Economic and Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Land Resources Implementation Studies (U.S. Water Resources Council, 1983). As such, these professionals should already be familiar with the
Examples of Intangible Benefits of Resilience-Focused Collaboration Between Dam and Levee Safety Professionals and the Broader Community
• Consensus identification and articulation of mutual and community needs and resources to create and increase safety and resilience
• Understanding of critical factors related to community well-being (social capital) that need to be protected; greater use of local knowledge in collaborative approaches
• Development of community networks useful for increasing resilience and furthering other corporate strategies
• Increased trust among collaborators that facilitates communication and the building of social capital
• Understanding and embracing responsibilities of good community citizenship; being recognized by the community as good citizens
• Better understanding of community stakeholders; increased awareness of benefits and risks associated with dam and levee infrastructures and consequences of failure for different stakeholders
• Continual awareness of community infringement on and plans for increased development in flood- plains; awareness of change in floodplain status
• Increased mitigation of risk and preparedness for potential failure; effective risk-reduction and resilience-building plans and capabilities represented in Emergency Action Plans
• Improvements in standards, regulations, enforcement, and investment
• Better understanding of community priorities that may inform decisions influencing infrastructure integrity and liability
A culture of collaborative engagement that achieves mutually beneficial dam and levee safety and community resilience
importance of specifying problems and opportunities, inventorying and forecasting conditions, formulating alternative plans, evaluating the effects of alternative plans, comparing plans, and selecting final action plans. This type of outline is scalable to all manner of decisions.
Although the ultimate goal of engagement may be to establish a formal resilience-focused collaborative process in which representatives of the local community and stakeholders more broadly are engaged, it is advisable to consider first how existing relationships could be improved, and then to expand community involvement incrementally. Tools will need to be identified, perhaps with the help of the federal government, to identify stakeholders, choose appropriate organizational vehicles for community engagement, and assist collaborative identification of desired community outcomes and the processes needed to achieve them (see Chapter 5 for more discussion).
Resilience-focused collaborative engagement in its early phases could focus on, for example,
• identification of community members, stakeholders, and motivation for engagement;
• open sharing and accessibility of critical hazard and risk information (e.g., inundation maps, EAPs, and risk estimates);
• identifying community attributes critical for resilience;
• identifying and instituting community risk mitigation and reduction measures;
• communicating the value of risk reduction and resilience;
• identifying common and conflicting community priorities; and
• examining alternatives for reducing risk and increasing resilience with regard to community values and priorities.
As collaboration matures, focus of activity can also mature. Collaboration can address the conflicting local community and regional stakeholder interests that often arise, and address other issues such as adaptation, social learning, and adaptive management3 processes over the long term.
Federal and state dam safety regulatory agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are leaders in improving dam safety and in heightening national awareness of dam safety issues with owners, legislatures, Congress, and the public. Their focus has been on mitigating dam failure through dam inspection programs and required remediation. Regulators require EAPs and often oversee tabletop and field exercises. Where efforts to enhance community resilience are under way, dam safety regulators will have expanded responsibilities and unique roles in newly established collaborative networks. Regulatory officials are in a position to facilitate trusted relationships and collaborative efforts involving dam owners and communities, particularly in the early stages of collaboration as processes evolve. The dam safety regulator may
• facilitate discussions between the broader community and a dam owner;
• broker information—assist communities in identifying, obtaining, and interpreting information that supports, for example, emergency planning and preparedness, identification of risk-reduction alternatives, and adaptive measures against future hazardous events; and
• serve as a technical resource in community efforts by interpreting aspects of, for example, dam operations, dam-break scenarios, risk information, and risk reduction alternatives.
3Adaptive management refers to "a formal, systematic, and rigorous program of learning from the outcomes of management actions, accommodating change, and thereby improving management" (Holling, 1978; NRC, 2003).
In these and other ways, dam safety regulators can play a vital role in the formative stages of establishing networks and processes that support community resilience-building efforts. Their unique relationships with dam owners provide opportunities to engage them to become positive, collaborative partners with the broader community.
Efforts at engagement and the selection of appropriate risk reduction efforts will be assisted through the development and dissemination by the federal government of tools, information, and examples of successful collaborative processes needed to establish collaborative relationships. As stated earlier, the federal government can direct such information and guidance for use by the dam and levee community.
The importance of community resilience is being recognized at the national level, but the path to making communities resilient has not been defined. Nonetheless, concepts are being developed and information on enhancing and assessing community resilience is increasing. Some basic principles are highlighted in Chapter 2. In light of these principles, the committee develops here a vision of how resilience with respect to dam and levee safety might be achieved, and the role of dam and levee professionals in realizing that vision.
The committee envisions a future in which the dam and levee safety community and the greater public recognize their individual and shared needs for effective infrastructure management and for developing a community capacity to mitigate, prepare for, recover from, and adapt in response to adverse local, regional, national, and global consequences of dam and levee failures. That future involves support by all of the community for collaborative processes that increase community capacity to protect itself from (often unexpected or highly uncertain) adverse events. As the nation increases its understanding and appreciation of what it takes to enhance community resilience, a paradigm shift is required specifically in the dam and levee safety community, and more generally in other elements of the broader community.
A recent NRC report concluded that private–public collaboration is an ideal and fundamental component of enhancing community disaster resilience (NRC, 2011a). The present committee draws heavily on the findings and conclusions in that report, which are based on an all-hazards approach to community resilience that presumably includes hazards associated with dams and levees. Those conclusions provide a starting point for a dam- and levee-specific framework. As recognized in the report, community resilience-enhancing efforts are community specific, community initiated, and community guided. This certainly applies to addressing the unique community risks associated with dams and levees (with recognition of the differences between dams and levees), such as the following:
• Many dams provide lifeline societal services (e.g., water supply, irrigation, and power), which are often essential for recovery after a disaster.
• Failure of dams may not only eliminate lifeline services but have potentially catastrophic consequences for a community or region.
• Flooding due to a levee failure can linger for an extended time (as was the case for the U.S. Midwest during 2011) and compromise community recovery efforts.
A conceptual framework for incorporating concepts of collaborative community resilience into dam and levee safety programs is presented later in this chapter. The framework recognizes that in any given community there are numerous means of enhancing resilience that will benefit both dam and levee owners and the broader community. The benefits include the reduced impact of a failure if it occurs, effective and efficient community recovery and adaptation, and protection of the dam or levee owner’s “brand,” “bottom line,” and liability. It is also expected that technical decisions made by dam and levee safety professionals will be influenced by community priorities, potentially resulting in the reduced likelihood of failure. The earlier NRC report’s framework for private–public collaboration to enhance community resilience, illustrated in Figure 4.1 (NRC, 2011a), is a generic framework intended to be modified for particular community circumstances. The framework for incorporating concepts of community resilience in dam and levee safety programs requires a perspective more compatible with the responsibilities of the dam and levee safety community and its management of risk. The intermediate and end outcomes, although similar to those shown in Figure 4.1, will be more targeted.
Major Elements of a Framework for Resilience-Focused Collaboration
Figure 4.1 depicts collaborative engagement as necessarily influenced by community factors, and necessarily responsive to changes in the community over time. Participants in collaboration develop a collaborative management structure, decide and carry out its various activities that lead to community synergy and increased community resilience. A framework for the dam and levee safety community must also be responsive to the fact that communities evolve in response to a host of factors outside the realm of dam and levee safety. Political leadership will change; legislation with respect to dam and levee management may be revised; economic vitality or major sources of community income may change; populations may move in or out, causing shifts in cultural attitudes and expectations; and environmental issues may evolve, depending on land use, quality and quantity of drinking water, or environmental preservation. For these and many more reasons, modes of collaboration and processes to enhance resilience must be evaluated regularly to remain relevant and to maximize efficiency.
FIGURE 4.1 Conceptual model for private–public collaboration for building community resilience. SOURCE: NRC, 2011a.
The next sections describe how the different components of Figure 4.1 are applied and modified for a framework for the dam and levee community.
Chapter 2 describes different community members and stakeholders to be engaged in resilience-focused efforts (Table 2.1): dam and levee owners, persons and properties at risk, the wider economy, and the broader social–ecological system. Response to a threat will be inadequate if collaboration does not include all elements of the community (NRC, 2010b). Just as community resilience depends on full representation, collaboration will be most successful if collaborators include those who have experience in the issues of concern but also diverse perspectives, experience, knowledge, and constituencies (Butterfoss, 2007). In developing a collaborative engagement approach, it is important to recognize and take advantage of existing formal and informal networks in a community, whether they are interpersonal at the neighborhood level or professional or social in and between private and public organizations. Potential participants in resilience-focused engagement can be chosen from among people who are well connected in those networks. Engagement for enhancing resilience with respect to dam and levee safety necessarily involves representation of stakeholders outside the immediate geographic area (e.g., those affected by indirect consequences of dam or levee failure) and state and federal regulatory entities that can have important supporting roles in resilience-enhancing processes.
Incentives to collaborate will differ among community members and stakeholders. Correctly identifying the elements of the dam or levee safety community as generalized in Table 2.1, assessing their various interests, identifying motivators for collaboration, effectively engaging them through efforts at various scales (e.g., one-on-one communication of resources or community-wide tabletop exercises), and effectively disseminating information to enhance risk awareness are dependent on an appropriate level of community member and stakeholder analysis and management of expectations.
Operations and Processes, Including Information Distribution
Participants in a prior NRC workshop on enhancing disaster resilience through private–public collaboration stressed the importance of some sort of collaborative management or facilitating structure that represents the community as a whole rather than a particular stakeholder interest or political leaning (NRC, 2010b). It is vital that the collaborative body be considered a neutral “honest broker” to gain the trust of the community. The activities of such a body will necessarily depend on the characteristics of the community that it will serve (NRC, 2011a), but an important role will be to remove the barriers that, for example, prevent the dam and levee safety community, emergency managers, and the private and public sectors
more generally from operating independently of one another. As shown in Figure 4.1, operations and processes, including those established for information distribution, will be based on horizontal networking (within the community) and on vertical links to higher levels (state and federal) as necessary for resources that are not available in the community. The focus of activities will be based on collaboratively identified common goals and missions.
Strategies and processes are more likely to be effective if they are “based on resources and capacities available to the community” and efficient if they are “designed so that they are scalable and transferable to other collaborative and community efforts, regardless of the initial specific purpose” (NRC, 2011a, p. 52). For that to occur, the planning of strategies needs to be well informed with respect to what is achievable in a community. There is no reason to invent a new wheel for each new effort; efficiency is created when processes designed to work under particular circumstances can be modified as necessary to work under other circumstances. It should be understood that different community members and stakeholders will respond to efforts differently, and that different modes of engagement may be necessary for effective communication with different elements of society.
Engagement will likely be more successful if developed in a bottom-up manner at the community level; the mere initiation from the bottom is a foundation for building trust and acceptance of processes being established. To be clear: dam and levee safety professionals are not necessarily responsible for creating a new collaborative network in a community, but it is incumbent on them to seek ways to engage existing resilience-focused collaboration or to instigate the relationships that will be the impetus for such collaboration.
Outcomes of Collaboration
Two types of outcomes are shown in the conceptual model for collaboration in Figure 4.1: intermediate outcomes and community-change outcomes. It is easier to describe the difference between the two by describing the latter first. Community-change outcomes are changes in the community that increase the community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and adapt as a result of dam or levee failure. They include “changes in community policies, practice, and environment that result from enhanced community capacity and participation” (NRC, 2011a; p. 53). Intermediate outcomes are the benefits gained from the collaborative process itself. They are the enhanced relationships between and among organizations and individuals that result from
increased communication and trust, identification of community needs and resources, increased ability to leverage community resources for the good of the community, improved ability to assess community risks, and improved emergency and community management and planning (NRC, 2011a, p. 53).
Intermediate outcomes of collaboration can also include “an increased ability to resolve conflict within the community . . . and a shared sense of local community ownership and responsibility among community members” (NRC, 2011a, p. 53).
A Dam and Levee Safety-Specific Framework
Planning and constructing new and major infrastructure systems are more public today than in the past—public hearings are held, for example, to discuss design, permit approvals, community and environmental impacts, and financing. These public processes can have a major role in deciding the fate (e.g., to build or not to build) of major projects. However, maintaining and enhancing safety throughout the life cycle of civil infrastructure systems are, as the terms suggest, ongoing processes. Current safety practice typically does not extend to such issues as what constitutes acceptable risk in a community and how to maintain commitment to consideration of issues over the lifetime of a structure. Interaction needs to extend to post-construction and operational periods to support community resilience. Furthermore, public hearings and other activities tend to be conducted through “us and them” processes—infrastructure planners and designers provide information from one side of the dais, and members of the broader community react on the other side. Decisions are usually made elsewhere. Such interactions are not the equivalent of collaboration. Mechanisms for collaboration that expand beyond established safety practice are needed. Building and enhancing community resilience need to be continuous processes that are institutionalized as part of a community’s normal functioning. Processes that allow engagement with representatives of all community members and stakeholders are needed.
Figure 4.2 is a conceptual framework for building community resilience with respect to dam and levee safety. It has many of the same components as the more general framework for resilience-focused collaboration shown in Figure 4.1 but is intended to communicate those components in a way specifically applicable to dam and levee safety programs. Central to the framework are collaborative processes for resource and floodplain management—the very reason for dam and levee infrastructure—that focus on aspects of dam and levee safety and community resilience. They include operational and risk communication, risk assessment, and preparedness and mitigation. An overarching element of the framework in Figure 4.2 is the availability to the community of dam and levee information that allows the community to stay informed about dam and levee infrastructure benefits and risks, operations, and procedures in place to respond to, recover from, and adapt in response to failure.
Dam and levee owners and operators provide services to a community and, in the case of dams, may also be lifeline resource providers. Both forms of infrastructure pose hazards. Collaboration serves as a forum for community members, stakeholders and dam and levee owners alike to address community resilience issues. The next sections provide a breakdown of each of the components in Figure 4.2.
FIGURE 4.2 Conceptual framework for resilience-focused collaboration related to dam and levee safety.
Members of a community are defined in Chapter 2 and include dam and levee professionals, persons and property owners at direct risk, members of the wider economy, and the social–ecological system. In the context of this report, stakeholders—those may experience the indirect impacts of dam or levee failure, are included in the community.
There are numerous factors external to any collaborative effort that influence decision making and community resilience, including the political, economic, cultural, and physical environments. Policies that limit the ability to obtain inundation maps, for example, are external factors that affect communication, and therefore decision making. Some increases in exposure to flood hazards and increased occurrence of damage are rooted in government policies that support development in hazardous areas and in the desire of communities to increase population and the local tax base (Burby, 2006). Some policies that may contribute to increased exposure to flood hazards are established at the federal level (such as the National Flood Insurance Program)4 and are exacerbated by lack of attention on the part of local governments to local risks and natural hazards (Burby, 2006). Building codes may not be enforced, and community leaders may not consider how flood-prone areas should be managed in comprehensive community planning. However, effective collaboration may ultimately influence some community factors as understanding and attitudes with respect to safety and resilience change community-wide. Dam and levee owners individually may not be able to influence national or even local policy directly. They can inform and influence decision making through collaborative social action.
Collaborative Processes for Resource and Floodplain Management
Dams and levees are designed to assist the use, development, production, protection, or management of resources, whether related to water, energy, land, or other types of resources. Collaborative processes can assist the management of resources by dam and levee professionals, community members, and stakeholders more broadly. The committee divides the many types of processes into three main categories: operational and risk communication, risk assessment, and preparedness and mitigation. Many specific issues will fall under multiple categories, and the list provided is not all-inclusive.
Operational and Risk Communication
Fundamental to dam, levee, and community resilience are the availability of information and an understanding of individual and shared interests and needs. Processes that inform all community members and stakeholders of the benefits, risks, and operational features associated with dam and levee infrastructure are needed. These processes may involve public education and outreach (e.g., efforts similar to the California FloodSAFE program; see Box 3.7), education in operational risks associated with dams and levees (e.g., controlled flow of water that can lead to flooding and levee vulnerability during flood conditions), and developing a forum to raise and discuss issues associated with evolving community needs and expectations, dam and levee owner interests and issues (e.g., reservoir and recreation issues, coming dam safety modifications, and dam removal), and the community actions needed to answer or resolve the aforementioned. Making communities aware of who is at risk of inundation and other consequences of dam and levee failure informs risk reduction decisions and activities.
Through collaborative engagement, dam and levee owners and the broader community can assess hazards and risks associated with dam and levee infrastructure over the life cycles of dam and levee infrastructure and developed land. Infrastructure owners and the community can explore creative solutions for land-use problems to reduce the risk and consequences of flooding and to provide environmental and quality-of-life benefits for all. However, understanding who is at risk, and what kinds of preparedness, mitigation, and training efforts are best suited for different groups requires community member and stakeholder analyses. Such analyses also serve to inform collaborative efforts regarding the various types of economic, infrastructural, and human capacity resources available to address risk and resilience.Emerging owner, regulator, and broader community risks and issues, including the significant impacts of climate variability on dam and levee infrastructure, are also risks that will need to be considered.
Preparedness and Mitigation
Collaboration related to preparedness and mitigation can include activities such as dam and levee hazard mitigation, funding for infrastructure repair and maintenance, broader financial preparedness for response and recovery (e.g., ensuring that community members understand and are prepared for the financial fallout of dam or levee failure), and emergency response and recovery planning and preparedness. Community preparedness for the consequences of flooding, whether caused by operational circumstances, overtopping, or
breach, includes, for example interacting with emergency management and other community leaders and planning and participating in tabletop and field exercises. Dam and levee failures are generally lower probability but higher consequence events (although the probability of levee failure is higher than typically associated with dam failure), and dam and levee safety professionals are uniquely informed in the community regarding the risks associated with dam and levee infrastructure, the sequence of events that occur before failure, and of flooding as a result of failure. It is their responsibility to take part in planning associated with transportation (e.g., as it is related to the provision of emergency services if roads or bridges are damaged or inaccessible), power generation and supply, water supply, public health issues, and so on. Establishing networks of trusted relationships and having processes in place before a failure occurs will make it more likely that response in the wake of a failure will be efficient and successful.
Risk-informed land-use planning can also be an aspect of hazard mitigation and certainly informs resource and floodplain management. Collaboration between dam and levee professionals and the broader community will allow more successful communication of information vital for land-use planning, and will provide an opportunity to influence policies and practices that can reduce exposure to flood disasters resulting from dam and levee failures.
Flood-risk management requires a long-term commitment of financial resources, particularly by dam and levee owners and operators, and potentially by any member of the community who is exposed to any type of flooding hazard. Dam and levee safety professionals understand the need for funding that is sufficient to cover maintenance, rehabilitation, upgrades, and eventual retirement of water management infrastructure. Depending on ownership and other factors, funds can come from fees, loans, taxes, grants, or intergovernmental transfers. The adequacy of the funding streams is particularly relevant to safety when maintenance and upgrades are deferred for lack of funds. One role for the dam and levee safety professional is to justify adequate funding, whatever its source.
To enhance community resilience, however, financial planning must go beyond consideration of infrastructure maintenance. As described in Chapter 2, the wider economy experiences flood impacts as a consequence of participation in the economy of an area, either as economic producers or as consumers. Because of these connections, the true “footprint” of dam and levee failure can extend far beyond the inundation zone and can sometimes be global. Resilience on the part of those economic agents includes the ability to handle the financial impacts of an economic dislocation. Community members and broader stakeholders may have different vulnerabilities, but in all cases it is necessary to be prepared for the financial consequences of a flood. Preparation may include the purchase of flood insurance, preemptive investments in flood-proofing, and relocation of vulnerable facilities. All such measures have costs, and so identifying funding sources is essential.
Through collaborative engagement, community members must be made fully aware of the physical risks and consequences of dam and levee failure. The complex webs of interactions
among all agents need to be transparent so that all understand the potential for cascading consequences in case one part of the economic web suffers as a result of flooding. Dam and levee safety professionals, as participants in resilience-focused collaboration, can help all to understand what the direct physical consequences of failure could be in different scenarios and in turn can come to understand what the economic consequences might be for the broader community in addition to the dam and levee infrastructure. Dam and levee professionals who have that understanding may be able to make informed operational choices that reduce risk for the community while minimizing operational costs. Collaborative decision making can reduce community economic risk, reduce owner liability, and possibly reduce insurance costs.
Emergency response and recovery planning is a large component of community preparedness and resilience. Collaborative engagement that includes processes and mechanisms to prioritize preparation and mitigation activities should be informed by the participation of dam and levee professionals. Emergency management—and resilience building more generally—is necessarily a multidisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional, cross-sector endeavor. Without regular and trusted communications between those involved in emergency management, dam and levee safety experts, and other community members and stakeholders, emergency response and recovery will be less effective and efficient, and may lead to increased post-disaster hazards and a slower recovery.
Resilience-Related Outcomes and Resilience
Figure 4.2 refers to the benefits of resilience-focused engagement as “resilience-related outcomes.” These can include increased access to risk information and social capital (e.g., more networking and increased trust among collaborators that can lead to more efficient communication and decision making). These intermediate outcomes are not equivalent to resilience, but are key factors in successful collaboration (thus, the two-way arrow between “resilience-related outcomes” and “collaborative processes”).
In one sense, resilience can be thought of as the ultimate goal of resilience-focused engagement; however, a community is never “done” building resilience. Community members and stakeholders always change, community factors evolve, and infrastructure ages. Even meteorological conditions are variable and what might have offered satisfactory protection in the past may not be sufficient in the future. For this reason, levels of resilience can only be sustained and enhanced if collaborative engagement and action are responsive to changing hazards, risks, community capacities, and resources. Regular assessment and evaluation of community members and factors, desired outcomes, and collaborative processes is necessary to keep activities relevant. Institutionalizing resilience-focused collaborative engagement as part of dam and levee professional culture is the only means of ensuring that resilience-related efforts become part of the institutional memory, even when individual actors in collaboration retire or otherwise move on.
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