Cascade vulnerability for risk analysis of water infrastructure

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

One of the major tasks in urban water management is failure-free operation for at least most of the time. Accordingly, the reliability of the network systems in urban water management has a crucial role. The failure of a component in these systems impacts potable water distribution and urban drainage. Therefore, water distribution and urban drainage systems are categorized as critical infrastructure. Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is likely to experience harm induced by perturbation or stress. However, for risk assessment, we usually assume that events and failures are singular and independent, i.e. several simultaneous events and cascading events are unconsidered. Although failures can be causally linked, a simultaneous consideration in risk analysis is hardly considered. To close this gap, this work introduces the term cascade vulnerability for water infrastructure. Cascade vulnerability accounts for cascading and simultaneous events. Following this definition, cascade risk maps are a merger of hazard and cascade vulnerability maps. In this work cascade vulnerability maps for water distribution systems and urban drainage systems based on the ‘Achilles-Approach’ are introduced and discussed. It is shown, that neglecting cascading effects results in significant underestimation of risk scenarios.

Keywords: critical infrastructure, GIS, hydraulic failure simulation, risk assessment, sensitivity analysis

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