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DSS-WISE Web: A Web-Based Automated Modeling, Mapping and Consequence Analysis Tool for Improving Dams Safety in the USA
Proceedings of the 2019 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2019 Authors: Altinakar M., MgGrath M., Ramalingam V.


The National Inventory of Dams (NID) includes the records of more than 90,000 dams classified in three hazard classes: high-hazard (HH), significant hazard (SH) and low-hazard (LH). Although required by law, 17.1% of 15,498 HH dams and 13.1% of 11,883 SH dams do not yet have an emergency action plan (EAP). Moreover, some of the existing EAPs are outdated or do not meet the standards set by FEMA and/or the individual states. About 65% listed in the NID are privately owned, but the safety of the dams is under the responsibility of the states. Unfortunately, many dam owners do not fully understand their personal liability in case of a failure and/or may not have the funds to hire professional services of an engineering company to establish an EAP. The state dam safety offices needed a reliable and accurate tool for dam-break modeling to track the hazard classification of their dam portfolio, which may change based on downstream development, and to provide up-to-date EAPs.

Funded by FEMA through a sole-source contract, NCCHE developed a web-based, automated two-dimensional dam-break flood modeling and mapping tool called DSS-WISE Lite, which is accessed through DSS-WISE Web secure web portal. The DSS-WISE Web portal was released on November 8, 2016. A graphical user interface with a map server assists the user to set up simulations quickly and efficiently by responding to a small number of questions. The input files needed for the numerical model are automatically prepared using various national data layers, such as NID, USGS 1/3 arc-second digital elevation model (DEM) tiles, National Levee Database (NLD), National Land Cover Database 2011 (NLCD2011), and National Bridge Inventory (NBI). Resampled at the user-specified resolution (20 to 200 ft.), the DEM serves as a regular Cartesian computational grid. The levees from NLD and the estimated reservoir bed topography are burned into the computational grid. The simulation engine uses a shock-capturing upwind scheme to solve the conservative form of full dynamic shallow-water equations discretized over the complex topography using finite-volume method and handles mixed-flow regimes, wetting and drying and discontinuities, such as jumps or traveling positive waves. The results can be viewed on a map server on the Status and Results page of DSS-WISE Web and downloaded onto the user's computer for further analysis. Recently, a post-processing module called DSS-WISE HCOM was released under DSS-WISE Web to provide an estimation of the human consequences of the dam-break floods based on the results of DSS-WISE Lite simulation. This module provides flood danger maps for different categories of population and the evolution of nighttime and daytime population at risk (PAR) by hazard classes using LandScan USA data layers developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

This presentation briefly presents the capabilities of the DSS-WISE Web portal, which is being used by 730 users from numerous federal agencies and 35 state dam safety offices. As of mid-February 2019, the system handled 13,836 simulation requests and performed 10,623 dam-break flood simulations for more than 3,000 dams. The computational performances of the DSS-WISE Lite system, which returns 85% of the simulation results to the user within 30 minutes, has made it an extremely valuable real-time emergency management tool. Exampled of the use of DSS-WISE Web as a tool for preparedness and emergency response planning are discussed.

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