Design, maintain and operate movable storm surge barriers for flood risk reduction

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Abstract

In several coastal regions around the world, movable storm surge barriers have been implemented to protect against flooding induced by storm surges and waves. These barriers often form an integral part of the coastal defense system. In urban deltas, they are mostly intended to protect urban and industrial interests, while providing access for shipping. The movable structure also offers other advantages, for example, the preservation of natural ecosystems. Where dams and dikes completely close off an area from the ocean, movable storm surge barriers ensure that a gradual freshwater-saltwater transition and tidal effects are maintained, while still providing the necessary flood protection. This multifunctionality makes these types of barriers sought-after for new flood protection schemes, as in the Houston-Galveston Bay area. In this respect, it is important to realize that movable storm surge barriers are assets with very specific characteristics. These characteristics have a major impact on the management, maintenance, and operations (MMO) of the barrier and can cause multiple challenges during its lifespan. However, by taking these specific characteristics into account in the design phase of the barrier, several of these challenges could largely be addressed. In the different contexts of coastal physics, climate, and flood risk approaches along the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, the challenges and their consequences might differ. This chapter examines a number of specific characteristics of movable storm surge barriers and their implications for MMO. The aim of this chapter is to create awareness for these specific characteristics and to offer direction on how to deal with their impacts on MMO by means of a reasoned design.