Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flood-protection innovations discussed at New Orleans conference

Molly Reid in the Times-Picayune (New Orleans): Engineers and politicians should be more open to new technologies and integrated systems of flood prevention and mitigation, German engineer Erik Pasche said Friday at a conference on water management and urban planning in risk-prone communities that was held at the old U.S. Mint in New Orleans.

Pasche's lecture on "cascading," or compartmentalized, levee systems was a keystone of the two-day conference titled "Building Resilience," in which planners, architects, engineers and environmental advocates discussed challenges and opportunities in marrying traditional, levee-based flood protection with newer, innovative water-management systems.

Americans and Europeans are both apt to feel that once levees are built, "now we are safe," said Pasche, who is based in Hamburg and is the director of the Institute of River and Coastal Engineering. "But we know nowadays that this is not correct, because of the uncertainty which came with climate change. "…

As an example of such a system, Pasche talked about efforts to implement a cascading levee system protecting the flood-prone island of Wilhelmsburg, which sits between two branches of the Elbe River in Hamburg. The cascading levee plan uses a tiered system in which the outer dikes are built resistant to breaches and weatherization, allowing for controlled overtopping. Buildings in those areas have to be "amphibious" or raised to meet the expected flood level, he said. Inner levees decrease in height, according to risk, and again allow for overtopping, he said….

The island of Wilhelmsburg, from German Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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