An international partnership to improve dyke design and management

As demonstrated by high waters in the Rhone river in 2002 and 2003, Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 or the Xynthia storm in France in 2010, the resistance of protective dykes is an international problem. Despite this, standards and practices to improve their performance are specific to individual countries. In order to combine knowledge and practices, a 5-year scientific project (2008-2013) has resulted in an international technical handbook on dykes.

A reference handbook

In conjunction with European-level research into the management of flood risks, particularly protective dykes (FloodProbe [1]), over 100 experts from around the world (mainly from France, the USA and the UK/Ireland consortium as well as from the Netherlands and Germany) collaborated to produce the 1st international reference handbook for the management and design of dykes. The document is mainly based on skills available in Europe and the United States.

ILH © CIRIAMore than a simple summary of knowledge on dykes, the International Levee Handbook (ILH) has been designed to be a practical manual for the evaluation, management and construction of dykes and includes good practices and support recommendations. The 5 years of research allowed experts to create a series of frameworks to group together various practices that had, until now, been disconnected. The result is a sort of dyke "bible".

The handbook in figures

  • 1349 pages
  • 1254 illustrations
  • 10 chapters
  • 63 authors
  • Several hundred contributors from around the world
  • A total weight of 4 kg!

Given its position as the French leader in dyke assessment, Irstea shared its experience and know-how by actively contributing to the project, from defining aims to participating in the various committees (editorial, steering), as well as taking the lead in writing two of the chapters:

  • "Levee inspection, assessment and risk attribution", chapter 5
  • "Physical processes and tools for levee assessment and design", chapter 8

Irstea also actively participated in drafting seven chapters and provided various contributions to the three other chapters in the guide.

The handbook, coordinated by CIRIA [2], was unveiled to representatives of various countries and the European Union in Arles on 3 October 2013, at the same time as the results of the European FloodProbe research project.

Available for purchase as a hard copy but also as a free download.

For further information

[1] The European FloodProBE project (2009-2013) was undertaken as part of the 7th Research and Development Framework Programme (RDFP), the main community research funding tool for the European Union.

[2] CIRIA (GB) Construction Industry Research and Information Association is an independent non-profit organisation; it is a research centre that aims to improve the performance of any construction and environment related activities.