Effectiveness of flood retention basins under hydrologic uncertainty

Joost Pol*, Hermjan Barneveld, Ralph Schielen, Guus Rongen, Joost Stenfert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademicpeer-review


Flood retention basins are widely applied to improve flood safety. The effectiveness of such basins is more sensitive for (hydrologic) uncertainties compared to other flood protection measures. This paper shows how uncertainty can be included in the effectiveness of two major types of flood retention: with fixed sills and adjustable gates. Fixed sills divert flood waters optimally only in a small range of flood levels. If the sill is optimized for a design flood, it has limited impact on events with a different peak discharge or volume. Therefore, the flood level reduction is often overestimated using design floods. Adjustable gates operated based on flood forecasts offer the possibility to divert water under a wider range of conditions and therefore these are potentially more effective and robust, depending on the forecast uncertainty. The probabilistic analysis for fixed sills includes flood duration statistics from a stochastic weather generator. For adjustable gates, we developed a decision support algorithm for the optimal moment to open the gates based on an ensemble forecast, and quantified the expected flood reduction. A case study along the Rhine river shows that an approach without hydrologic uncertainty would overestimate the effectiveness with a factor 2 to 3.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventFLOODrisk 2020 - 4th European Conference on Flood Risk Management - Online
Duration: 22 Jun 202124 Jun 2021


ConferenceFLOODrisk 2020 - 4th European Conference on Flood Risk Management


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