Lessons learnt CI

Three pilot projects, Reimerswaal, Flood Proof Electricity Grid Zeeland, (the Netherlands) and Kent (United Kingdom) focused on assessing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to flood events. The following  lessons learned were drawn from these three pilot projects. 

A thorough flood risk analysis of the area is essential. It is important to conduct a solid flood risk analysis of the area in order to get a realistic view on what happens with critical infrastructure (electricity grids, health centres, roads, railways, harbours, drinking water supply, among others) when an area floods. This impact was unknown in the Netherlands, and therefore, a vulnerability study was carried out to identify the cascading effects of electricity grid failure in case of a flooding. In, the Kent pilot project (UK), risk assessment tools and models were used to accurately study the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and communities to floods.

Increase awareness about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure. Generally, there is a lack of knowledge and research done about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to floods. As a result of these FRAMES pilots, new knowledge was developed about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure such as electricity grid networks, health care institutions, roads. In the Netherlands, the organisations managing these infrastructure became awareness of the flood risk and their responsibility of taking actions to become more resilient. E.g. in the Flood proof electricity grid pilot the owners of the health care institutions became awareness that they need to have their own power generators in case of an electricity failure. Next step in the future for them is to include flood safety in their own management asset plans.

Transform knowledge about impacts of floods on critical infrastructure into policy advise. The increase of knowledge on how cascading effects can be prevented, were translated into  policy advise for the Dutch national government, and could be integrated into the asset management plans for electricity grids and/or to develop similar vulnerability studies for other vital services (telecom, gas) and other climate change effects (droughts, heat stress). In the United Kingdom, the knowledge developed has been used to engage with decision makers in Kent County and update flood response plans. Moreover, they will continue to engage with planners and water managers to strengthen physical resilience of new build developments. Moreover they will increase consideration of flood risk in planning policy and will incorporated this into future projects of Kent County Council about resilience to climate change.

Find out who has should be involved in the project. In the Dutch pilot projects, the first step was to investigate the stakeholders of the study area, because it is extremely important to get the right people (and hence the right power, the right knowledge and the right networks) actively involved before the pilot project starts. For the Dutch pilots, this resulted in bringing together people that never before cooperated: flood risk professionals from local and regional authorities together with the asset and quality managers of critical infrastructure. It is important to realize that not all stakeholders realize themselves that they have a stake in the issue at hand, and it might be necessary to pro-actively involve parties, and clarify their stake for them. Likewise, for the Kent pilot, flood risk and crisis management authorities (the Kent County, Kent fire and rescue, Kent police among other) never met before with service providers.

Trust equals success. In the Netherlands, pilot managers had to build up a relationship with the owners of critical infrastructure. An agreement was signed with the owners of the electricity grid to ensure that confidential information (such as the exact location of the electricity grid assets) will not be published. As a result, trust was developed among project partners, and the group as a whole was motivated to work on this together.

Have a clear and understandable message. In all three pilots, it proved difficult to communicate the exact meaning and consequences of the low probabilities of flooding, or the cascading effects of electricity failures. Flood risk maps were used to assess flood consequences and to communicate the low possibilities of flooding. In the Kent pilot, a set of guidance documents for businesses was produced to overcome this gap.