The Agly flood (Pyrénées-Orientales) and the breach in the sea-wall at Leucate (Aude) last March served to remind us once again of how important dykes are in continuing to protect people and their livelihoods. Flood defences are subject to both inherent structural weaknesses and natural phenomena such as raised water levels and storms. Moreover, over time and the succession of events, flood defences are weakened, which further increases the risk of rupture. Every event, however minor, provokes damage to the structure, caused by infiltrations, waves or the current, reducing their dependability. During exceptional events, weaknesses in flood defences can have consequences that are graver than the event itself on people and infrastructures. The question is no longer how to provide protection with flood defences but rather how best to manage and make use of them so that they are more reliable.
Industry and research working together to protect
The dramatic floods in the 1990s launched a debate on flood protection. Awareness of the dangers associated with the structures themselves led to the creation of specific regulations. It is incumbent upon the state, in its capacity as the water authority, to have sufficient knowledge of all territorial flood defences. The expertise of Irstea was therefore called upon to examine the security of the country’s hydraulic structures. For the past 20 years Irstea has been carrying out research in support of public policy and in partnership with management and companies operating in the hydraulic structure field. Whether it is the design of new structures, research on material durability or a biodiversity impact study, all of these areas play an active role in the study of flood protection systems.
A three-day colloquium
Keenly anticipated since 2004, the second national colloquium, "Flood control - maritime dykes and river embankments", will take place from 12 to 14 June at Aix-en-Provence. Sponsored by the Ministry of Ecology, Energy and Sustainable Development, the France Dams and Reservoirs Committee and the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region, Irstea has organised this three-day event to discuss and take stock of technical developments in the area of sea and river defences.
More than 300 participants are expected at the "Flood control - maritime dykes and river embankments" national colloquium. Managers, planning department engineers, inspection services, researchers, specialised suppliers and industry representatives will all have valuable input to share.
The aim is to conduct a review of technical developments, the implementation of the new 2007 regulations for hydraulic structures and the distinction between safety and efficiency. The three-day colloquium promises to be the scene of intense debate and will also provide an opportunity to present developments in research projects into breaches of river flood protection barriers. Protection against the risk of flooding and the management and design of existing or planned protective flood barriers are themes that extend far beyond our national borders and account for the participation of an international contingent. The event will draw to a close with a technical visit of the flood protection barriers of the Rhone delta in the Camargue, on Saturday 15 June.
For further information:
The registration deadline for the colloquium is 12 May 2013