Oregon State University

1.0 Flood management

Overview of flood management dams

Dams help manage floods by maintaining storage space in the reservoir, termed flood control volume, which can capture flood waters when they arrive. During a flood event, dam operators try to maintain releases at or below the objective release stated in the operators' manual. Planners set the objective flood release to a level which passes flood waters through the reservoir as quickly as possible without causing downstream damage. The magnitude of flood the dam can attenuate without causing downstream damage depends largely upon the objective release and the flood control volume. Planners determine the flood control volume based upon the magnitude of flood they want a dam to provide protection against, known as the design flood. Typically, infrastructure is designed to operate at or below a design flood of a certain exceedance probability. For example, a flood with 1% chance of exceedence in any given year is known as a 100-year flood, or a flood with an expected occurance of once every 100 years. In this module you can plan your own flood control dam and explore the implication of different specifications for the:  design flood, objective release, and flood control volume, on the dam’s performance.


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