Natural Hazards

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 997–1019 | Cite as

Prioritizing levee repairs: a case study for the city of Indianapolis, Indiana

Original Paper


Levees are one of the major structures in the USA to protect land and property from devastating floods. Many of these were built primarily for protecting farmland in the mid-nineteenth century. However, urban development has led to increase in the number of homes sheltered by the levees, which were not designed with the necessary level of protection. In addition, lack of regular inspection and maintenance has left many levees in need of costly repairs. This study attempts to define a practical and economical means of prioritizing levee repairs based on the economic risk posed by the breaching of impaired levees and the expected improvement costs for returning the levees to a safer condition. A methodology for a simplified breach damage analysis is employed through a case study of five levees in a flood-prone area in central Indiana. Results of the case study provide a means of analytically prioritizing levee repairs and identify future research needs for advancement of the prioritization procedure. The use of an unsteady-flow analysis with storage areas to represent the protected areas is identified as a key component to a realistic characterization of the physical system. Comparisons between breach results, economic costs, and characteristics of the protected areas reveal no apparent correlations, suggesting a need for a ranking parameter. A priority ratio is identified in the case study results and suggested for use for prioritizing levee repairs.


Levee breach HEC-HMS HEC-RAS Unsteady state modeling Indianapolis 



The authors would like to thank USGS, Marion County, FEMA, NOAA, and the Army Corps of Engineers for the data used in this study. We would also like to thank Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. for their support of the first author to pursue this study at Purdue University. The authors would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped improve the previous version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd.IndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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