Second International Conference on Flood Recovery Innovation and Risk
26 - 28 May 2010
The second International Conference on Flood Recovery, Innovation and Response (FRIAR 2010) has recently been held in the Pirelli building in Milano. The conference was jointly organised by the University and Politecnico di Milano, the University of Wolverhampton and the Wessex Institute of Technology, UK, with the support of the Lombardy region of Italy. The meeting was endorsed by the EurAgEng (European Society of Agricultural Engineering) and CIGR (International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage). The conference follows the success of the first meeting held at the headquarters of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, UK, in 2008.
One third of the annual natural disasters and economic losses, and more than half of the associated victims are flood related. A burgeoning global population and growing wealth, particularly in the last two or three decades, has increased the risk and the demand for flood protection. These features, together with climate change problems and urban development, are affecting the way flood risk is managed. Knowledge and scientific tools play a role of paramount importance in the strain of coping with flooding problems, along with capacity building in the context of political and administrative frameworks. Therefore, governments need flood risk management in order to ensure that the safety of people and property and buildings, contribute to flood defence, prevention and recovery.
Opening of the Conference
The conference was opened by representatives of the different institutions involved, including the Lombardy region.
Professor Enrico Larcan, Head of the Department of Hydraulic Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano welcomed the delegates in the name of his department. He pointed out the importance of the conference organised by WIT and the fact that the topic of the conference is highly relevant to the research carried out at his Department as well as to the Lombardy region.
The next speaker, Professor David Proverbs, from the University of Wolverhampton stated the importance of the work at the conference to the research carried out at his department, closely related to the socio-economics aspects of floods, including matters concerned with insurance.
Professor Daniele De Wrachien referred to the fact that the conference was held within the framework of the agreement between his institution, the State University of Milan, and the Wessex Institute of Technology. The problems of flooding – Professor De Wrachien said – is of growing importance in modern society, aggravated by the spread of urbanisation, climate change and other modern problems. Of paramount importance is to guarantee the safety of the population and minimise the economic consequences of flood events.
Professor Stefano Mambretti from the Politecnico di Milano explained the organisation of the technical visit, to demonstrate some of the remedial work carried out in the River Po basin to minimise the risk of flooding.
Dr Angelo Crippa, Chief Executive of the Environmental Division of the Regione Lombardy, explained some the activities carried out by his Division, in particular the risk assessment of natural disasters and the emergency response. The main issues affecting the region are landslides, debris flows and other geological problems, including floods related to the River Po basin. The Division is comparatively small but collaborates with many institutions over all Lombardy. His task is to plan ahead and coordinate the work of many different parties. This work in the last few years concentrated on a study of integrated risk for the whole region, rather that analysed separately. This encompasses natural, industrial, rock-related and different types of man-made risks. In this manner they have determined a risk index for each particular area taking into consideration all associated risks for any given occurrence. Another area of importance is the monitoring and prevention of landslides to assess the risk to the communities. The project also aims to educate the different parties and continues to develop further in accordance with EU Directives.
Professor Carlos Brebbia, Director of the Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT) expressed the gratitude of his Institution as well as the other co-organisers to the Lombardy region for allowing the conference to be held in the well-known and emblematic Pirelli building, by the renown Nervi, which represented the rebirth of Milano after the devastation of World War II. The building itself represents a plane wing aiming to reach the sky, is a symbol of peace, reaching out to the world. It is – Professor Brebbia said – a right setting for a conference as international as FRIAR, which attracted delegates from more than twenty different countries. The aim of WIT, Professor Brebbia explained is to act as a mechanism for knowledge dissemination throughout the world. Conferences such as FRIAR are essential to achieve this aim.
The conference sessions comprised a series of keynote addresses by well-known colleagues.
‘Flood forecasting: the hard choice’ by Professor Magdy Mohssen, Lincoln University, New Zealand
The paper describes two models that have been developed to forecast the levels of Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. They can accurately forecast a flood event and provide an effective warning to mitigate the severe damage that could occur due to this phenomena.
‘Risk assessment of heritage structures endangered by fluvial floods’ by Professor Miroslav Sykora, CTU Prague, Czech Republic
This contribution provides a general framework for the risk assessment of heritage structures endangered by river floods. The consequences were assessed using Bayesian networks supplemented by decision models.
‘Mathematical models in flood management: overview and challenges’ by Professor Stefano Mambretti, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Mathematical models provide the best tools for assessing and consequently modelling the vulnerability of rural and urban flood prone areas.
‘Assessment of damages caused by different flood types’ by Dr Heidi Kreibich, German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany
This paper analyses different causes to the Elbe and Danube floods, including water level, flood duration, flow velocity and contamination. In addition it analyses the resulting losses which varied significantly. It proposes the development of new flood models to achieve comprehensive risk assessments for effective flood management.
‘Inundation risk assessment of underground spaces in the downtown of Fukuoka City, Japan’ by Professor Haruyuki Hashimoto, Kyushu University, Japan
The purpose of this work was to develop an inundation risk assessment method for underground spaces to be applied in Fukuoka City, which has been affected by severe floods in 1999 and 2003 following short term heavy rainstorms.
The rest of the papers presented at the conference were classified into the following topics;
- Flood risk analysis
- Flood risk management
- Urban flood management
- Flood forecasting
- Risk assessment and decision making
- Flood case studies
- Community resilience to flooding
The conference dinner took place in a restaurant well-known for the quality of its fish and consisted of a four course menu with wines from the Campagna region. On arrival the delegates were offered a glass of Prosecco and had a taste of home-made Limoncello before departing. Professor Brebbia thanked the delegates for having come and gave them a copy of a book dealing with the Art and History of Milano, a city that is better know for its wealth generation reflecting the industrious character of its inhabitants.
A special technical visit was arranged during the late morning of the second day of the conference. It demonstrated the flood prevention system of Milano and was guided by G La Montagne, a manager of the Agenzia Interregionale per il fiume Po.
Milano has serious flood problems due to the urbanisation of large area particularly in the north of the city which is upstream of the River Po. Ways to safeguard Milano took a long time to be completed and have resulted in a very complex system.
The visit included the northwest collecting canal, which receives water from the many rivers in the area in order to bypass Milano. They also stopped at different points within the canal networks and have a look at ancient Canal Sforza with the lock developed by Leonardo Da Vinci. On the way back they saw the old Docks of Milano in the Navilia area of the city.
The conference provided a forum for researchers, academics and practitioners to exchange interdisciplinary knowledge and experience in a wide range of technical and management issues related to flooding and its devastating effects.
The success of the conference will ensure its reconvening in 2012 in a location and at a time to be decided soon.
Publication of Papers
Papers from the conference will also be hosted online in the WIT eLibrary as Volume 133 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at http://library.witpress.com