Collaborative efforts among community members and stakeholders more broadly are necessary to achieve a high level of resilience. Ideas need to be integrated and solutions implemented that meet community needs and address community-identified resilience goals. However, even members of the geographic community can have broad and sometimes competing interests, as well as different technical and nontechnical backgrounds that make communication difficult. The differences become even more pronounced when considering stakeholders from outside the geographic area. Even so, it is important to involve community members and stakeholders as main actors in enhancing resilience to gain trust and “buy-in” of resilience-enhancing processes. Hazards and risks need to be communicated by means that can be understood by all, which implies careful consideration of community factors to identify those means. The same means may not work for all groups.
The committee experienced communication problems similar to those described above, albeit on a smaller scale, during its own deliberations. As a diverse group of engineers, social scientists, community planners, and other experts, the committee had to learn to communicate to identify issues and a vision for incorporating concepts of community resilience into dam and levee safety programs. The committee quickly learned that individual members used different vocabularies to express themselves, complicating the sharing of ideas. As committee discussions progressed, members often recognized that their goals were not actually divergent. They found instead a common vision and a shared set of conclusions.
Similar challenges will present themselves to dam and levee safety professionals on a much greater scale as they attempt to engage the broader community in improving community resilience. Different groups will have different assumptions, perceptions, and vocabularies, which will make communication difficult—at least initially. But the experience of this committee suggests that progress can be made when individual and mutual needs and goals are identified and clearly stated.
The Maturity Matrix for Assessing Community Engagement (see Chapter 5) was first
proposed in committee discussions as a means with which communities can assess the progress of safety programs along the continuum of resilience-enhancing efforts. But it became, quite unexpectedly, an effective tool for gauging committee progress in developing ideas and building consensus. The committee noted that simply discussing the elements of the maturity matrix allows those with different backgrounds (e.g., representing different stakeholder groups) to understand the many complex elements of dam and levee safety programs and community requirements for enhancing resilience. The committee came to understand how the Maturity Matrix for Assessing Community Engagement can be tailored to various scales of use and different organizational levels. With that tool to aid communication, the committee developed the set of conclusions summarized in this chapter.
Many conclusions appear throughout this report. This chapter presents those core conclusions related to the major cultural shifts the committee believes are necessary to integrate concepts of resilience into dam and levee safety programs. They appear in much the same order in which they became understood as vital during committee deliberations. The conclusions here begin with a definition of community, and continue with the identification of major inhibitors of resilience, the committee vision for the role of dam and levee safety programs in enhancing resilience, and finally conclusions related to how that vision can be realized and how the federal government might facilitate that realization. Conclusions related to specific tools that could be developed by the federal government to aid dam and levee safety programs related to identifying and engaging community members and stakeholders, and in decision making and decision support systems can be found in Chapter 5.
Conclusion 1. The dam and levee community comprises dam and levee safety professionals, and other individuals, groups, and institutions that benefit from the continued and safe functioning of dam and levee infrastructure—whether or not those benefits are recognized by the individual community members.
Conclusion 2. Community resilience is a community effort, and dam and levee safety professionals are part of the community.
Community resilience, by its nature, is a community enterprise that requires the participation of all members and stakeholders. Dam and levee professionals (e.g., owners and operators, regulators, consultants, and emergency management officials) are members of the communities they serve. Other community members are those at direct risk for loss of life, limb, or property as a result of flooding from dam or levee failure; those who rely directly or indirectly on the lifeline services that a dam or levee may provide (such as drinking water or electricity); individuals and organizations at financial risk as a result of links to the regional,
national, or global economies (such as shareholders, mortgage holders, and insurers); and individuals and organizations with ties to regional political and social networks through family, neighborhood, religious, or other networks, and those who benefit from affected environmental ecosystems. Because each community is unique, community members and stakeholders may not be easily divided into definitive categories.
Dam and levee professionals will serve their communities more successfully when they embrace the idea that “community,” in the context of dam and levee safety, extends well beyond those in the inundation zone. Such a broad definition of community implies that risks and benefits associated with dam and levee infrastructure need to be evaluated on multiple scales without diminishing the role of the proximate community. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the complex social, economic, environmental, and other relevant networks that may be affected by failure. Global supply chains may be affected, and financial support networks of shareholders, mortgage providers, and insurance companies may suffer the direct or indirect consequences of flooding. Their losses may have cascading effects on the welfare of the local, regional, or global communities.
Conclusion 3. Those subject to the direct or indirect impacts of dam or levee failure are also those with the opportunity to reduce the consequences of failure through physical and social changes in the community, community growth planning, safe housing construction, financial planning (including bonds and insurance), and development of the capacity to adapt to change.
Members of a community, including dam and levee professionals, know more about their community than anyone else and therefore are in the best position to improve their community. Dam and levee safety professionals can provide critical expertise, support life-cycle hazard and risk assessments, and take part in informed decision-making processes as they and the broader community work to enhance resilience. At the same time, dam and levee professionals and the organizations they represent can ultimately derive benefits from participation in efforts to enhance community resilience, including a potential reduction in liability through decreased flood risk.
Conclusion 4. Current policy and practices restrict access to information critical to public risk awareness, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and community capacity for adaptation. Dam and levee safety processes and products (such as inspections, Emergency Action Plans [EAPs], and inundation maps) are intended to support decision making and enhanced community resilience,
but are not readily available to all community members and stakeholders who make those decisions.
Decisions or practices intended to support national security, protect proprietary interests, or minimize liability concerns are often used as justification for not sharing information critical for informed decision making related to improving resilience. The lack or intentional withholding of vital information related to risk hampers community risk assessment, preparedness, mitigation, response, recovery, and capacity for adaptation, and may ultimately do more harm than good. Trust in dam and levee owners and government agencies may be diminished, and community members and stakeholders may be unaware of their exposure to flood risks. The ability to prepare for and respond to adverse events can therefore be compromised.
Dam and levee owners themselves could manage their responsibilities with a greater understanding of the upstream and downstream factors that influence risk. Communities as a whole could address risk better if consequences of various dam and levee failure scenarios were understood. Having the information needed to assess and manage risk associated with flood-water management, and having that information presented in understandable and actionable ways, is vital to the ability of the entire community to plan for and mitigate the direct and indirect consequences of infrastructure failure. Risks associated with national security hazards, proprietary interests, or liability protection need to be realistically compared with the risks associated with dam and levee infrastructure failure before making decisions to withhold risk information. In the absence of accurate inundation maps, for example, many rely on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps that do not depict the areal extent or severity of all flood risks, and insurers and financial institutions are forced to make decisions without knowing the aggregate risks they may be taking.
Dam safety professionals themselves have focused much of their effort on reducing the likelihood of flooding due to uncontrolled and controlled flow from dams and the development of EAPs. Levee safety professionals have been similarly concerned with preventing uncontrolled flow, although levee safety programs generally are far less mature than dam safety programs. Focus on EAPs is essential for both dams and levees, but EAP preparation is not an established practice for levee safety, and EAPs alone are not sufficient to enhance community resilience. The lack of availability of comprehensively prepared and disseminated EAPs, of detailed and accurate inundation maps, and of comprehensive public awareness programs compromises effective decision making conducive to enhancing resilience. The collaboration and two-way communication with local community officials that results from a robust EAP process generates opportunities to enhance resilience.
Conclusion 5. Enhancing resilience will be most successful when dam and levee safety professionals and other community members and stakeholders identify and manage risk collaboratively in ways that increase understanding and communication of risks, shared needs, and opportunities.
As members of the larger community, dam and levee professionals share opportunities and responsibilities with other community members to improve resilience associated with the primary and secondary effects of dam or levee failure.Likewise, involvement of the broader community brings expertise and resources that can benefit dam and levee professionals. Collaborative engagement builds the trust among dam and levee professionals and other community members that is a vital element of community resilience. With trust comes more effective communication, improvements in social capital, deeper appreciation of dam and levee infrastructure, and recognition of dam and levee professionals as good community citizens. Robust interaction also encourages comfort and familiarity in collaborative work, qualities that contribute to effective response during emergencies. Strangers working together for the first time during a crisis may be less effective than people who already have developed communication channels and trust.
Community resilience and traditional mitigation and emergency preparedness efforts will be improved if the key representatives of the entire community can be identified and engaged. Collaborative risk management can take many forms, and many models of resilience-focused collaboration are available for consideration—for example, Tulsa Partners,1 Safeguard Iowa Partnership,2 and Earthquake Country Alliance.3 Collaborative management, however, is most effective when it is community based and managed by the community. Collaboration can begin with efforts to extend existing relationships that dam and levee professionals have with a community’s appointed and elected officials, and through participation in existing resilience-focused partnerships in the community. The goal is to significantly expand and strengthen current interaction and engagement. In addition, there is a place at the table for federal partners in dam and levee safety at the community level, but their most effective role (if not the infrastructure owner) is facilitative—providing information and guidance—rather than prescriptive.
Making hazard information available to a wider audience will ensure that a greater number of community members and stakeholders understand the potential scenarios and risk exposure. This can lead to greater demand for engagement among all and ultimately to the development of physical, societal, and financial solutions for improving resilience.
Conclusion 6. Risk-informed approaches allow dam and levee professionals to improve their understanding of infrastructure-system operations, performance, vulnerabilities, and the consequences of potential failures, and allow them and the broader community to make better decisions related to dam and levee infrastructure and resilience.
Current dam and levee engineering design and operating procedures are largely standards-based, and uncertainties associated with hazards and structural or system performance are largely ignored.Conventional engineering practices obscure a full understanding of risk. Until recently, even discussing how a system might fail was not a part of dam and levee engineering culture. Although there has been a trend toward more risk-based approaches to dam and levee safety evaluation in recent years, the use of these approaches is not universal and is far from mature in the profession. Expanding dam and levee safety practice to include collaborative risk management implies the need to communicate the benefits and risks associated with dam and levee infrastructure to the community. Doing that implies a need to understand and quantify associated risks and consequences as fully as possible, not only for the benefit of the dam or levee owner but also for the broader community. The ability to understand and respond to potential consequences is essential for enhancing resilience.
Deterministic approaches (e.g., probable maximum flood and standard project flood approaches) focus only on what is assumed to be the worst possible scenario for a given hazard without consideration of the likelihood of the event and without understanding the accuracy of the predicted scenario. Risk-based methods, in contrast, allow evaluation of the likelihood of events in a broad array of scenarios and allow prediction of the types and magnitudes of consequences associated with those scenarios. Risk-based, or at least risk-informed approaches contribute to more open, honest communication of community exposure to adverse events, even given uncertainties in current approaches. Such communication contributes to collaborative processes significantly and can be an agent of change on the part of policy makers and the broader public. It allows communities to appreciate the benefits of dam and levee infrastructure, understand different stakeholders’ risks associated with their operation and potential failure, and make appropriate decisions to improve dam and levee safety, reduce flood risk and associated liabilities for different groups at risk, and increase community resilience.
Conclusion 7. Improving dam and levee safety programs to emphasize processes that enhance community resilience requires a culture shift among dam and levee professionals. This new emphasis requires embracing the responsibilities—and
the benefits—associated with developing and implementing collaborative risk-management processes that facilitate enhanced community resilience.
Dam and levee safety programs have improved substantially in recent decades, but they remain focused on regulatory compliance, on preventing failures, and on elements of emergency preparedness. Regulatory compliance is a necessary first step, but it alone will not build community resilience. The vision for future dam and levee safety programs is one in which dam and levee safety professionals and the larger community are active participants in risk-informed processes that support improved community resilience. Future dam and levee safety programs will continue their mitigation and emergency preparedness efforts, but a clearer understanding and communication of risks will be required, as will broader engagement with community members and stakeholders in which two-way communication of individual and common needs is the norm. It is such communication and engagement that allow resilience-enhancing processes to be identified and implemented. Such a future is achievable, but only in the context of changes in the traditional culture of dam and levee communities and in the public’s view of these systems.
This vision is applicable to both public- and private-sector dam and levee safety programs, and both will need to overcome obstacles. Public-sector dam safety programs, for example, often do not have the funds to meet mandated responsibilities. Jurisdiction over levees is often unclear, so it may be difficult to determine who has the responsibility and legal authority to affect change. The lack of data that are readily available to community members and stakeholders outside dam and levee professional networks hampers community understanding of risk, or even the recognition of being at risk, and constitutes a barrier to change. Cultural change at the dam and levee program level will be more likely if there are commensurate changes in state legislatures, in Congress, in dam and levee owner management or board rooms, and among dam and levee engineers themselves. Support is needed to expand the scope of dam and levee safety programs so they can contribute to enhancing and sustaining community resilience.
Activities to enhance community resilience with respect to dam and levee safety need not and should not be separate from broader community resilience efforts. It is the responsibility of dam and levee professionals at all levels (local through federal) to bring their unique expertise to bear and to assist their programs in putting into place the processes needed to assess and address community resilience related to dam- and levee-associated risk.
Conclusion 8. The federal government can aid resilience-enhancing efforts by identifying, cataloging, further developing, communicating, and facilitating the use of tools and guidance that already exist in the published literature and in
federal and state guidelines. Many existing tools may need little or no modification to be useful for enhancing community resilience for specific situations. Cataloging existing tools is a first step in identifying and setting priorities for developing necessary new tools.
The availability of dam and levee information supports a community’s ability to remain informed about dam and levee infrastructure benefits and risks, operations, potential for failure, and procedures in place to prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from and adapt in response to potential failure. Such information is vital to the decision making that makes communities more resilient. However, dam and levee safety programs and communities may not know how best to determine the reliability and usefulness of information and data, or how to communicate them in efficient, timely, and actionable ways. Enhancing resilience requires an understanding of what resilience is. Resilience can be defined and understood only in the context of the individual community because each community faces different risks and has unique requirements for continued successful functioning. Successful practices of similar communities (e.g., best practices) can be shared through federal communication mechanism (such as FEMA’s long-term recovery support arm, Emergency Support Function 14).4
The federal government contributes to community-level resilience best when it contributes in a supportive role—in this case through the provision of information, guidance, and tools for dam and levee professionals and other relevant community members and stakeholders. The tools provided cannot be one-size-fits-all, given the uniqueness of communities. Those made available must be flexible to assist decision making and must provide the right level of analysis for state and local application. It would be worthwhile for federal agencies that have roles in dam and levee safety, in collaboration with states and representative owners, to review their own processes for enhancing community safety and resilience. They could determine what tools and resources exist and are still needed to be most helpful in facilitating local resilience-building efforts. The next step would be to determine the best way to make those tools available to local dam and levee safety programs and the communities they serve. Exploring effective incentives for their use would also be appropriate.
A number of federal agencies are putting forth effort with respect to enhancing community resilience. These efforts may focus on all-hazards approaches to enhance community resilience; risks associated with dam and levee failure may be among the hazards (see, e.g., the FEMA Risk MAP program).5 Tools, guidance, and best practices for enhancing resilience may have already been described in programs of those or other agencies.
Conclusion 9. Collaborative efforts that become a normal part of community functioning will enhance resilience more successfully in the long term. Continuous improvements in community resilience are more likely if such processes as community and stakeholder engagement assessment are institutionalized by dam and levee safety programs and the broader community.
Enhancing resilience is a multistage process that encompasses efforts to identify and reduce risks, prepare for hazardous events, respond to and recover from events, and allow community adaptation in response to lessons learned from the entire cycle of activities. Without a continuous effort to sustain an environment conducive to enhancing resilience, these efforts and their beneficial outcomes will be short-lived. A successful program includes long-term planning in which life-cycle benefits and costs of dam and levee infrastructure are widely understood by the community. Successful efforts, therefore, will be ones that are institutionalized in dam and levee safety programs and the broader community, that build the trust that allows effective collaboration, and that encourage active engagement. When safety programs integrate the assessment of engagement into their long-term management, benchmarking of processes and identification of opportunities to improve community resilience will become part of the operational norm. Efforts to do so will build important relationships among community members and stakeholders, including dam and levee professionals. This social capital—manifested as effective working relationships—will be the underpinning of community resilience.
Conclusion 10. Enhancing resilience requires frequent and collective evaluation of risk, safety, and collaborative processes. The proposed Maturity Matrix for Assessing Community Engagement can be used by dam and levee safety professionals, community members and stakeholders, and government entities at all levels to benchmark and manage the progress of industry and community processes related to safety and engagement. Details of assessment are necessarily unique for each community. The federal government can assist communities by providing an initial framework for the assessment tool, and providing information and training for its development and continued use at the community level.
Enhancing resilience requires evaluation of the overall posture of a community with respect to resilience. Tools for measuring resilience directly, however, do not exist. In their absence, adequate evaluation requires some method for capturing and assessing resilience
improving processes that a community has in place. A rubric for such assessment is needed. The Maturity Matrix for Assessing Community Engagement (see Chapter 5 for detailed description) can help dam and levee professionals and the broader community to gauge the level of practice with respect to community resilience and to understand how individual processes fit into the larger community resilience picture. The use of the assessment tool allows communities to become familiar with resilience-building processes already in place, to determine goals and priorities for improvement, to identify processes needed to meet those goals, and to monitor outcomes of other tools and programs in place in the community.
The Maturity Matrix for Assessing Community Engagement, as envisioned by the committee, depicts different aspects of dam and levee infrastructure operations and community processes to which dam and levee professionals may be able to contribute (see Figure 5.2). The maturity matrix is necessarily unique to the community it serves just as what defines community resilience is individual to the community; a matrix developed for one community may not be adequate for another. The matrix captures the continuous improvements necessary for designated processes to reach safety- and resilience-related goals at different stages of development. Already, a best practice of dam and levee owners is to identify potential and actual deficiencies of their facilities through periodic assessments. The Maturity Matrix for Assessing Community Engagement allows dam and levee owners and the broader community to visualize the status of any number of detailed processes on a continuum and provides a roadmap for planning that allows all to be mindful of the tension between budgetary constraints and community goals.
Active engagement is vital, and the development of a maturity matrix provides a mechanism for promoting two-way communication between dam and levee professionals and the broader community. Early collaborative efforts, for example, could include discussion of a single element of the matrix. Deciding on goals, processes, and what constitutes progress creates a means of building social capital. Dam and levee owners and members of the broader community will need assistance in customizing the matrix and using the tool to its fullest potential for assessment of practice over time.
The federal government could develop a basic framework for the Maturity Matrix for Assessment of Community and Community and Stakeholder Engagement (recognizing that the matrix must be customized and fully developed at the community level) and for the training necessary to institutionalize its use in any safety program. Because the assessment tool is scalable and can be readily modified to assess the progress of a large variety of resilience-related activities, programs, or types of infrastructure at various levels (local, state, regional, and national), it may also be worthwhile to explore its use more generally to aid in identifying
• characteristics of resilience in individual communities (or organizations or regions) and the objectives that need to be reached to make them more resilient;
• methods and strategies for identifying stakeholders, engaging in resilience-focused collaboration, and communicating risk in clear, understandable, and actionable terms;
• vulnerabilities and risks associated with all hazards and potential alternatives for reducing or mitigating them;
• roles of community factors (such as legislation and land-use planning) in the severity of the hazards.
Once developed sufficiently as a tool, the federal government could facilitate a pilot program in a community to demonstrate the tool’s usefulness.
In keeping with its task, the committee presents a means of improving and expanding dam and levee safety programs into programs that integrate processes that promote community resilience into daily safety practice. The committee offers a fundamental framework for a holistic and systematic approach to safety analysis that incorporates elements of community resilience and risk management. If developed and tailored to applications in individual community or safety programs, the framework would likely improve communication, allow communities to establish goals and priorities, and identify the means to reach goals to improve resilience.
Moving forward with the suggestions in this report is a major undertaking that will require the efforts of more than one entity, more than one piece of legislation, or a single source of funding. It will require many individuals in a community to evolve their thinking about resilience and their roles in enhancing resilience. Dam and levee professionals, and engineers in particular, will need to expand their safety practices and align them to be consistent with concepts of community resilience. This will, in many cases, conflict with long-held traditions in training and practice. The course of action suggested by the committee is game-changing and perhaps not welcome by many in this time of limited resources and budget cuts. However, in the context of long-term land-use and floodplain management, and considering the life cycles of the critical infrastructure involved, the expenditures will prove worthwhile.
An incremental approach will be necessary to make the changes suggested, but each increment should be a step toward community agreed-on outcomes. Once the approach suggested in this report is accepted by a safety program—whether public or private, and whether at the local, state, regional, or national level—it will be incumbent on the program, with the assistance of those at higher levels, to determine how to make the approach fit its unique circumstances. Given that the maturity matrix is scalable, a matrix established for a program may be broken down and detailed to address the responsibilities of the geotechnical,
geologic, hydrologic, hydraulic, and civil or structural elements of the safety program. Doing so will ensure that the entire program is making design and operational decisions consistent with safety and community priorities for resilience.
The committee has focused largely on the concept of community and stakeholder engagement and the assessment of progress of engagement in advancing community resilience goals. The Maturity Matrix for Assessing Community Engagement can be central to both. Engagement, however, cannot substitute improved dam and levee infrastructure integrity and technical decision making, nor can it substitute adequate resource allocation for said improvements. It can, however enable effective two-way communication coupled with risk-based safety analysis and enable communities to use its resources more effectively to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover and learn from dam and levee failure. The active engagement it encourages may facilitate common understanding of how local events or choices have impacts beyond the local community, and may help communities identify common and conflicting priorities among its local, regional, and even global members. Further, it can inform technical decision making to improve infrastructure integrity as well as strengthen a community’s ability to influence policy in positive ways.Many of the principles developed in this report are applicable not only to resilience associated with dam and levee infrastructure but to resilience associated with other types of critical infrastructure, and to disasters in general.