SC060058 - Emergency Response - Best Practice for Flood Embankments

Theme:Sustainable Asset Management
Project status:Completed
Start date:01/11/2007
End date:30/04/2012
  • Flood Defence
  • Royal HaskoningDHV


A new manual published by the Environment Agency offers guidance to those called out to potential emergency situations on how to determine whether an embankment is likely to breach during a flood.
There are some 7,500 km of coastal and fluvial (river) flood embankments in England and Wales. Effective performance of these embankments in holding back the force of the water, including under flood conditions, is critical for flood risk management in the UK.
This project developed a prototype manual, the Emergency Response Manual, to help operational staff assess the strength of embankments under water loading conditions. The manual is designed with a similar appearance to the Condition Assessment Manual (CAM), it describes various modes of failure and provides information to help identify failure mechanisms in embankments.
The work follows on from a recommendation in the Environment Agency/Defra report 'Reducing the Risk of Embankment Failure under Extreme Conditions' which explored embankment performance issues and offered guidance on dealing with all aspects of embankment design, operation and management. The Emergency Response Manual is aimed at staff called to assess an embankment during a flood or high tide. The guide is structured by fault type, with one fault per page.
The guide, combined with local knowledge, will help determine the urgency of any action needed and will help decide whether the fault will lead to a breach. Establishing the actual remedial action needed is outside the scope of this work.
The manual is currently being piloted by Environment Agency Asset System Management and Operations Delivery teams from four regions: South West, North West, Anglian and Midlands. These teams were selected due to the high number of embankments in these areas.