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Publications - 02_A_Journal papers and articles_Dam safety management and risk analysis


A combined risk analysis approach for complex dam–levee systems
The article with title "A combined risk analysis approach for complex dam–levee systems", has been published in Structure and Infrastructure Engineering on April 2017.

The authors are Jesica Tamara Castillo-Rodríguez (UPV and iPresas), Jason T. Needham (USACE), Adrián Morales-Torres (iPresas) and Ignacio Escuder-Bueno (UPV and iPresas).

Structure and Infrastructure Engineering
DOI: 10.1080/15732479.2017.1314514

"In many areas of the world, dams and levees are built to reduce the likelihood of flooding. However, if they fail, the result can be catastrophic flooding beyond what would happen if they did not exist. Therefore, understanding the risk reduced by the dam or levee, as well as any risk imposed by these flood defences is of high importance when determining the appropriate risk reduction investment strategy. This paper describes an approach for quantifying and analysing risk for complex dam–levee systems, and its application to a real case study. The basis behind such approach rely on the potential of event tree modelling to analyse risk from multiple combinations of ‘load-system response-consequence’ events, tested by the authors for a real case study. The combined approach shows how the contribution to system risk of each sub-system can be assessed. It also describes how decisions on risk mitigation measures, at the individual asset scale, can and should be informed in terms of how they impact the overall system risk"

Dams, levees, safety, system risk, risk analysis, flood risk management

Jesica Tamara Castillo-Rodríguez, Jason T. Needham, Adrián Morales-Torres & Ignacio Escuder-Bueno (2017): A combined risk analysis approach for complex dam–levee systems, Structure and Infrastructure Engineering
DOI: 10.1080/15732479.2017.1314514

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Link to SIE journal
Quantitative Risk Analysis to inform safety investments in Jaime Ozores Dam (Spain)
Paper presented during the 85th ICOLD Annual Meeting held in Prague in July 2017.


Manuel Setrakian-Melgonian, Ignacio Escuder-Bueno, Jesica T. Castillo-Rodriguez, Adrián Morales-Torres, Dolores Simarro-Rey


Jaime Ozores dam is a concrete gravity dam, 28 m high, located in the province of Badajoz (Spain).

It has a spillway with two gates and a bottom outlet and it was built in 1962. This reservoir is used to supply water to the downstream population. In 2000, a flood produced overtopping over the crest of the dam. For this reason, a lower maximum operating level was set in the reservoir. In this context, a complete risk informed process was started focused on overtopping and sliding failure modes, including a detailed fault tree analysis of the two gates in the spillway.

The outcomes of the risk informed process are presented in this paper, showing how it has been used to analyze the effect of improving flood operating rules, changing the operation of the bottom outlet and improving warning
systems in the downstream Water Treatment Plant.

The outcomes of the risk informed process are presented in this paper and they are compared with the risk results of Membrio and El Horcajo dams, presented in previous ICOLD conferences, showing how robust and transparent information has been develop to support safety governance in the portfolio of dams from the Junta de Extremadura.

Synthesis report Theme B - 2015 ICOLD Benchmark Workshop
The synthesis report of proposed solutions to Theme B, formulated by Ignacio Escuder and Adrián Morales, is now available.
Theme B - Synthesis report
Overcoming failure in infrastructure risk governance implementation: large dams journey
The research paper with title "Overcoming failure in infrastructure risk governance implementation: large dams journey" has been published in the Journal of Risk Research on August 9, 2016.

The authors are Ignacio Escuder Bueno (iPresas) and Eric Halpin (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).

"There is ample recognition of the risk inherent in our very existence and modes of social organization, with a reasonable expectation that implementing risk governance will result in enhanced resilience as a society. Despite this, risk governance is not a mainstream approach in the infrastructure sector, regardless of the increasing number of peer-reviewed published conceptualizations, mature procedures to support its application, or public calls to cope with systemic risks in our modern societies. This paper aims to offer a different view on the issue of risk governance, with focus in the analysis of the root causes of its relatively low degree of implementation in the infrastructure sector. We later analyze the impact of such essential causes, which we have grouped and labeled as the ontology, the concerns, the anathemas, and the forgotten, in the specific field of large dams. Finally, we describe the journey toward risk governance in the specific field of large dams, thus supporting the ultimate objective of this paper to facilitate an evidence-based approach to successful risk governance implementation within and outside the dam sector."

Governance; risk; systemic; infrastructure; dams

Ignacio Escuder-Bueno & Eric Halpin (2016): Overcoming failure in infrastructure risk governance implementation: large dams journey, Journal of Risk Research

Link to the journal
This article can be downloaded here
Enhancing local action planning through quantitative flood risk analysis: a case study in Spain
The research paper with title "Enhancing local action planning through quantitative flood risk analysis: a case study in Spain" has been published in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences on July 29, 2016.

"This article presents a method to incorporate and promote quantitative risk analysis to support local action planning against flooding. The proposed approach aims to provide a framework for local flood risk analysis, combining hazard mapping with vulnerability data to quantify risk in terms of expected annual affected population, potential injuries, number of fatalities, and economic damages.
Flood risk is estimated combining GIS data of loads, system response, and consequences and using event tree modelling for risk calculation. The study area is the city of Oliva, located
on the eastern coast of Spain. Results from risk modelling have been used to inform local action planning and to assess the benefits of structural and non-structural risk reduction measures.
Results show the potential impact on risk reduction of flood defences and improved warning communication schemes through local action planning: societal flood risk (in terms of annual expected affected population) would be reduced up to 51 % by combining both structural and nonstructural measures. In addition, the effect of seasonal population variability is analysed (annual expected affected population ranges from 82 to 107%, compared with the current situation, depending on occupancy rates in hotels and campsites). Results highlight the need for robust and standardized methods for urban flood risk analysis replicability at regional and national scale".

Castillo-Rodríguez, J. T., Escuder-Bueno, I., Perales-Momparler, S., and Porta-Sancho, J. R.: Enhancing local action planning through quantitative flood risk analysis: a case study in Spain, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1699-1718, doi:10.5194/nhess-16-1699-2016, 2016.

Link to the Journal
This article can be downloaded here
Building fragility curves of sliding failure of concrete gravity dams integrating natural and epistemic uncertainties
The research paper with title "Building fragility curves of sliding failure of concrete gravity dams integrating natural and epistemic uncertainties" has been published in the journal "Engineering Structures" in July 2016.

The authors of this paper are Adrián Morales-Torres, Ignacio Escuder-Bueno, Luis Altarejos-García, and Armando Serrano-Lombillo.

"In the majority of engineering problems, two kinds of uncertainty are generally considered: natural uncertainty, resulting from the inherent variability in natural processes, and epistemic uncertainty, linked to lack of knowledge. When performing a quantitative risk analysis, considering both types of uncertainty separately before integrating them when performing risk calculations, allows a better understanding on how both types of uncertainty influence risk results.
The main purpose of this paper is presenting a consistent procedure to perform fragility analysis for dams in order to identify and track natural and epistemic uncertainty separately. This procedure is particularized for the sliding failure mode of concrete gravity dams, due to its importance. The resulting fragility curves provides a valuable input to quantitative risk models in order to compare the effect of risk reduction and uncertainty reduction investments. The proposed procedure combines the concepts of the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) guidelines to develop fragility curves for the nuclear industry with existing reliability techniques for computing fragility curves in the context of concrete dams engineering. The procedure has been applied to a dam to illustrate how it can be used in a real case in such a manner that fragility curves are obtained integrating natural and epistemic uncertainties without losing track of their separate contribution to risk results."

Fragility analysis; Concrete dams; Sliding failure mode; Natural and epistemic uncertainty; Quantitative risk analysis

Link to the article in Engineering Structures
The suitability of risk reduction indicators to inform dam safety management
The research paper "The suitability of risk reduction indicators to inform dam safety management" has been published in the journal "Structure and Infrastructure Engineering" in February 2016.

Adrián Morales-Torres, Armando Serrano-Lombillo, Ignacio Escuder-Bueno
& Luis Altarejos-García (2016): The suitability of risk reduction indicators to inform dam safety
management, Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, DOI: 10.1080/15732479.2015.1136830

Risk analysis can provide very suitable and useful information to manage the safety of critical civil infrastructures. Indeed, results of quantitative risk models can be used to inform prioritisation of safety investments on infrastructures’ assets and portfolios. In order to inform this prioritisation, a series of risk reduction indicators can be used. This paper reviews existing indicators for dam safety, tracks how equity and efficiency principles are captured, propose additional indicators and provides insights into how tolerability guidelines and benefit–cost analysis can also play a role in decision-making. All reviewed, analysed and/or combined indicators are later applied in a case study, a portfolio of 27 dams where 93 structural and non-structural investments are prioritised. The case study shows that prioritisation sequences based on risk model results provide suitable and useful information, acknowledging that other concerns may be conditioning decision-making processes. With the results of the case study, a full comparison between all studied risk reduction indicators is made, and three indexes are calculated for all of them to measure how close they are to a theoretical best.

Dam safety, decision-making, risk management, risk & probability analysis, quantitative analysis, risk reduction indicators, risk reduction principles, equity & efficiency.

Link to the journal paper in Structure and Infrastructure Engineering
Advances on the Failure Analysis of the Dam—Foundation Interface of Concrete Dams
The journal paper "Advances on the Failure Analysis of the Dam—Foundation Interface of Concrete Dams" has already been published (2 Dec 2015).

This article belongs to the Special Issue Failure Analysis in Materials.

Citation: "Advances on the Failure Analysis of the Dam—Foundation Interface of Concrete Dams"; Altarejos-García, Luis; Escuder-Bueno, Ignacio, and Morales-Torres, Adrián; Materials 2015, 8, 8255–8278; doi:10.3390/ma8125442

"Failure analysis of the dam-foundation interface in concrete dams is characterized by complexity, uncertainties on models and parameters, and a strong non-linear softening behavior. In practice, these uncertainties are dealt with a well-structured mixture of experience, best practices and prudent, conservative design approaches based on the safety factor concept. Yet, a sound, deep knowledge of some aspects of this failure mode remain unveiled, as they have been offset in practical applications by the use of this conservative approach. In this paper we show a strategy to analyse this failure mode under a reliability-based approach. The proposed methodology of analysis integrates epistemic uncertainty on spatial variability of strength parameters and data from dam monitoring. The purpose is to produce meaningful and useful information regarding the probability of occurrence of this failure mode that can be incorporated in risk-informed dam safety reviews. In addition, relationships between probability of failure and factors of safety are obtained. This research is supported by a more than a decade of intensive professional practice on real world cases and its final purpose is to bring some clarity, guidance and to contribute to the improvement of current knowledge and best practices on such an important dam safety concern."

concrete gravity dams; sliding failure mode; reliability; uncertainty; spatial variability

Link to download the journal paper
Eric HALPIN and Ignacio ESCUDER-BUENO: XXV ICOLD Congress, Stavanger, Norway (June 2015)
Link to this article
Paper Q96
Manuel SETRAKIAN, Ignacio ESCUDER-BUENO, Adrián MORALES-TORRES, and Dolores SIMARRO: XXV ICOLD Congress, Stavanger, Norway (June 2015).
Link to this article
Paper Q99
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iPresas develops a guideline for dam risk analysis and management in India - 08/03/2018
iPresas, in collaboration with EGIS EAU (France), is working on the development of guidelines for risk analysis and management of dams in India.

“Capacity building and institutional strengthening are key issues for a smart infrastructure governance” - 29/01/2018
Ignacio Escuder, interviewed on DD News (National TV Channel in India) after the "2018 International Dam Safety Conference” held in Kerala (India)

iPresas participates during the “International Dam Safety Conference” of India - 26/01/2018
Adrián Morales and Jessica Castillo presented a contribution during the Technical Session T1A and Ignacio Escuder acted as Chairman and invited speaker of Technical Session T1B, both devoted to risk and uncertainty analysis

iPresas software - 2018 demo versions already available - 10/01/2018
iPresas software supports risk-informed dam safety and portfolio management

Ignacio Escuder Bueno, founding-partner of iPresas, new Chairman of SPANCOLD (Spanish National Committee on Large Dams) - 07/12/2017
He was elected in October 2017 during the Plenary meeting held in Madrid and designated by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment on December 5th.

Adrián Morales, iPresas CTO, speaker in the International Forum on Risk Management in Hydroelectric Power Plants - 17/11/2017
The Forum was held at the Salto Grande Hydroelectric Complex in Uruguay.

iPresas analyzes flood risk of Tegucigalpa (Honduras) with an innovative procedure - 15/11/2017
The methodology developed may be applied to other natural risks to quantify economic benefits of investments in risk reduction

Ignacio Escuder participates in the “14th ICOLD International Benchmark Workshop on Numerical Analysis of Dams” - 10/10/2017
The objective of this meeting held in Sweden was to exchange knowledge and experience about safety, planning, design, construction, as well as the operation and maintenance of dams

iPresas participates in the workshop “Water Security in Bulgaria” - 30/09/2017
Adrián Morales, iPresas CTO, invited as keynote speaker in session "Regulatory and Institutional Aspects of Dam Safety".

Adrián Morales, iPresas' CTO, 2017 Young Civil Engineer Award - 02/06/2017
The award was launched at the Headquarters of the Professional Association of Civil Engineers in Valencia on June 1, 2017.

iPresas participates in the V Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction - 28/05/2017
This event, organized by UNISDR, was held in Cancun on May 22-26, 2017.