Landslide Risk Management: Geotechnical Investigations

Introduction

In recognition of the challenge between development pressures and landslide hazard, in the year 2000 the Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS) published a benchmark technical paper “Landslide Risk Management Concepts and Guidelines” (AGS, 2000) – which significantly updated an earlier 1985 guideline. It was recommended in the report of the Coroner’s Inquiry into the 1997 Thredbo landslide that AGS (2000) be taken into account – through directions in the Building Code of Australia and local codes dealing with planning, development and building approval procedures – when assessing and planning urban communities in hillside environments.

Whilst AGS (2000) presented concepts and guidelines to assist practitioners, there remained a need to provide supplemental information to further assist practitioners, to assist regulators and to provide advice to the broader Australian population. This was recognised by the SCCG who in turn submitted a successful grant application under the NSW and Commonwealth Governments’ National Disaster Mitigation Program.

Outcomes / Outputs

The project(s) are intimately related to management of risk associated with landslides in all parts of Australia, covering sloping terrain generally and with applicability to the coastal and near-coastal environment. The project involved the development of two guidelines, two commentaries and a suite of GeoGuides. These provide assistance variably to regulators, practitioners and owners and occupiers of property and land potentially subject to landslide hazards.

  1. The Landslide Zoning Guideline covers landslide susceptibility, hazard and risk zoning for land use planning. It provides guidance to government regulators (officers of local government and state government instrumentalities) and geotechnical practitioners in the methods of Landslide Hazard Zoning. Such characterisation provides input to the land use planning process in areas of landslide hazard. This guideline is supported an associated commentary document.
  2. The Slope Management Guideline – known as the Australian GeoGuides for Slope Management and Maintenance – provides owners and occupiers, and therefore the public in the broader sense, with guidance on management and maintenance of properties subject to landslide hazard. These two guidelines are important contributions to the management of landslide hazard at both ends of the process – initial identification of landslide hazard in the planning process, and management of properties prone to landslide hazard by the end-user.
  3. The guidelines benefit the general community (Australian GeoGuides) and Local Government regulators (Landslide Zoning) through achieving safer, more sustainable communities in relation to their exposure to landslide risk, and reduce risk to the community through improved planning and slope management practices. These guidelines link with the risk management practices presented in AGS (2000) and the recently published Building Code of Australia (BCA) Guideline, and will provide long-term natural disaster mitigation benefits to housing and infrastructure.

The LRM Practice Note provides guidance to practitioners in the performance of project specific landslide risk assessment and management, and also to government officers in interpretation of the reports they receive. The Practice Note is suited to be an external reference document for legislative requirements. The Practice Note supersedes the recognised industry “standard” on LRM in Australia – AGS (2000).

The guidance provided by the Practice Note is of a technical nature and is mainly for the geotechnical practitioner for the production of landslide risk assessment and management for development in areas prone to landslide hazard. This includes guidance on appropriate methods and techniques, and tolerable levels of risk. Currently, an acceptable level of risk to life for the individual most-at-risk is reasonably well identified, though perhaps conservatively so. As a result of a number of issues, there has been no similar guidance for risk to property, which is now provided in the Practice Note.

Project Awards

Warren Medal – Civil Collage

In early 2008 the SCCG and Australian Geomechanics Society Landslide Risk Management Project was awarded the prestigious Warren Medal the premier award of the Civil College.

Australian Safer Communities Awards 2008

“AGS (2007)” was submitted for judging in the Australian Safer Communities Awards 2008 in the category of “Projects of National Significance”. The project received a ‘High Commendation’. Award winners are recognised “throughout the emergency management sector for their outstanding achievement, innovation and professional standing”.

 

Guideline for Landslide Susceptibility, Hazard and Risk Zoning for Land Use Management

Commentary on Guideline for Landslide Susceptibility, Hazard and Risk Zoning for Land Use Management

Landslide Practice Note – Practice Note Guidelines for Landslide Risk

Journal of Emergency Management in Australia, Landslide Risk Management for Australia.

Australian GeoGuides for Slope Management and Maintenance

Australian GeoGuide on Landslides

Australian GeoGuide on Soil Slopes

Australian GeoGuide on Rock Slopes

Australian GeoGuide on Water and Drainage

Australian GeoGuide on Retaining Walls

Australian GeoGuide on Landslide Risk

Australian GeoGuide on Hillside Construction

Australian GeoGuide on Effluent and Surface Water Disposal

Australian GeoGuide on Coastal Landslides

Australian GeoGuide on Record Keepings

A Method for Assessing the Vulnerability of Buildings to Catastrophic (Tsunami) Marine Flooding

Introduction

Sydney’s low-lying coastal infrastructure is vulnerable to the impact of catastrophic marine floods associated with tsunami and storm surges. The future impacts of such floods will be worse than in the past because of climate related sea level rise and increased exposure at the coast. Coastal planners and risk managers need innovative tools to undertake assessment of the vulnerability of buildings and infrastructure and likely probable maximum loss located within their areas of responsibility. Such assessments will enable risk mitigation measures to be developed and challenges of long-term sustainability to be addressed. In 2008, the SCCG together with the Australian Tsunami Research Centre at the University of New South Wales commenced a collaborative research project titled “A method for assessing the vulnerability of buildings to catastrophic (tsunami) marine flooding”.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of this project was to apply a newly developed GIS vulnerability assessment tool to selected coastal suburbs of Sydney, evaluate and quantify the vulnerability of buildings at those locations to a hypothetical tsunami (or storm surge) flood based on the latest scientific understanding.

Outcomes / Outputs

The results are presented via a series of thematic vulnerability maps, in which different types of buildings are displayed using a colour code corresponding to the RVI score.

The overall project outcomes are delivered in three forms:

  1. 1:5000 scale maps of the RVI scores of all buildings within the two study areas;
  2. A report including a detailed description of the method, the results and a series of potential recommendations for Government(s) to increase their capability to deal with long-term risk mitigation
  3. A step by step ArcGIS user’s manual for applying this model to other coastal areas including a specific tool to be installed onto the GIS platform.

The project outputs, finalised in August 2009, include the Final Report, User Manual and Project Fact Sheet click on the links below.

Final Report

User Manual

 

In November 2011, the SCCG partnered once again with the UNSW Pacific Tsunami Research Centre and Natural Hazards Research Laboratory (UNSW APTRC) to build upon this project and assess coastal vulnerability to multiple inundation sources. This 2-year project will develop a multi-hazard tool to assess the vulnerability of buildings and critical infrastructure to extreme marine inundatations caused both by tsunamis and storm surges.

 

Coastal Vulnerability to Multiple Inundation Sources Project (COVERMAR)

A prize winning project!

This project received State and National recognition, winning both the New South Wales and Australian 2014 Resilience Australia Awards (local government category). The Awards recognise innovative practices and achievements across the nation which support and strengthen community disaster resilience.

Intoduction

The Sydney Coastal Councils Group Inc. (SCCG) partnered with the University of New South Wales Australia – Pacific Tsunami Research Centre & Natural Hazards Research Laboratory (UNSW APTRC) to undertake a research project addressing coastal vulnerability to multiple inundation sources.

The project has developed a multi-hazard tool to assess the vulnerability of buildings and critical infrastructure to extreme marine inundations caused by both storm surges and tsunamis. Inundation scenarios were simulated using state-of-the-art numerical models, under present and predicted future climate conditions, and tested at three NSW study sites.

The project was coordinated by the SCCG and carried out by Dr. Filippo Dall’Osso and Assoc. Prof. Dale Dominey-Howes.

The project Fact Sheet can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

Stages

  1. We developed a multi-hazard tool to assess the vulnerability of buildings and critical infrastructure to extreme coastal inundation caused by storm surges and tsunamis, modelling 36 tsunami scenarios combining two sources, three annual tsunami probabilities, the current and two future sea levels and high tide and mean sea level.
  2. We undertook a multicriteria analysis of the vulnerability of our 15 Member Councils and identified Botany Bay and the adjoining Port Hacking and Bate Bay as an appropriate case study location.
  3. We surveyed the physical and engineering attributes of all buildings in the study area (~4000 buildings) and imported them into a GIS system.
  4. State of the art building fragility models were applied to assess the level of damage of each individual building
  5. We then calculated expected economic losses (Probable Maximum Loss) drawing upon current building construction, demolition and replacement costs. Results were displayed on a series of coded high-resolution colour coded maps.

Project deliverables inform coastal strategic planning, development assessment and emergency management. They expand awareness and understanding of the vulnerability of NSW coasts to inundation (from storm surge and tsunami) and its impact on infrastructure, canvassing recommendations in relation to planning and development and coastal and emergency management. Many elements of the project methodology can be applied to other hazards such as bushfire and flooding.

Funding

This project is funded by the Australian and NSW Governments and conducted under the Natural Disaster Resilience Program, as described in the National Partnership Agreement on Natural Disaster Resilience and the NSW Implementation Plan 10/11.

Project Outputs

Literature Review Report

A Literature Review Report has been prepared that provides contextual knowledge and information regarding the project. It reviews relevant past, existing and emerging work that has been synthesised into five sections:

    1. Scope
    2. Risk, hazard, vulnerability and exposure
    3. Extreme inundation events
    4. NSW policy framework on coastal and flood risk
    5. Review of methods for assessing the vulnerability of buildings and infrastructure to extreme inundations.

The Hazard Assessment Report reviews the numerical simulations of the selected tsunami and storm surge inundation scenarios: 1/100 yr storm surges, and 1/100 yr, 1/1,000 yr and 1/10,000 yr. tsunamis under present and future sea level conditions.

Outcomes Report

This report describes the methodology and presents the results of the building and infrastructure vulnerability assessment at a NSW case study location.

Project Launch

On 17 February 2014, at Customs House, Sydney, the project deliverables were launched. Presentations from the principle researcher and three other industry stakeholders (Geoscience Australia, NSW SES and the Hazards Research Group, University of Sydney) were delivered to 62 attendees representing 40 different organisations. Presentations provided an overview of storm surge and tsunami risk in Australia, reflected on the role of the NSW State Emergency Service and the contribution to research and information by Geoscience Australia. It also reviewed the development of the tool, project methodology, benefits afforded by the Advisory Committee, case study locations and the results thereof. An end-of-launch panel discussion provided an opportunity for participants to explore issues further.

Overall, 80% of respondents considered the event very good or excellent, and very or extremely unique. Ninety-two percent thought it was well structured and 50% said it exceeded expectations. Notably, 92% indicated that their skills and knowledge of coastal hazards such as storm surges and tsunamis improved by attending the event. Presenters were well prepared (100% agreement) and communicated well (90% agreement). It was also a good networking opportunity (87% agreement).

The subject matter, structure, duration, high calibre of presenters and the contribution of participants ensured that the event was a success. Lessons learned and evaluation results will be applied to future activities to ensure continuous improvement of SCCG events.

 

The following presentation slides from the Launch are available for download:

Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes, University of Sydney

Australian Tsunami – An overview from hazard to community risk perception.

Dr. Filippo Dall’Osso, UNSW
Coastal vulnerability to multiple inundation sources

Belinda Davies, NSW SES
Emergency management of coastal hazards in NSW

Mark Edwards, Geoscience Australia
Natural hazards impact accessment at Geoscience Australia

Emergency Management Planning: a Health Check for Local Government (EMP Stage 1)

The outputs of the Stage 1 Emergency Management Planning Project are below.

Project Aim and Objectives

By working closely with Local Government and the major combat agencies, the SCCG explored current practice in NSW and reviewed best practice approaches from other States and Internationally. A key element of the project is the building of resilience, both organisationally and within the community, to provide adaptive and flexible responses to emergencies. The project also investigated limitations and opportunities for Local Government practice due to other areas and responsibilities of Emergency Management.

The SCCG engaged with emergency management staff from SCCG Councils and the lead agencies. A Steering Committee with representation from those organisations was established to draw upon viewpoints and needs from all perspectives.

The objectives were to:
  1. Clarify the roles and involvement of Local Government in Emergency Management
  2. Engage stakeholders in Emergency Management Planning to define areas of need and to refine the scope and focus of the proposed tool
  3. Identify information relevant to community engagement and participation in emergency management through structured interviews
  4. Examine use of resources for Response and Recovery to evaluate efficient and economic use
  5. Evaluate individual and organisational learning in all phases of Emergency Management
  6. Identify data to inform future planning and decision-making relevant to emergency management
  7. Investigate how Emergency Management functions of Local Government are incorporated into the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework and identify relevant parameters and performance indicators
  8. Investigate monitoring and evaluation frameworks relevant to Emergency Management
  9. Develop a tool, the Health Check, which will provide a means to assess the level of emergency management preparedness of Local Government
  10. Foster uptake of the tool in Local Government by conducting workshops and other means of promotion.

The project has relied on the contributions from Member Councils and other interested councils from across the State. The initial consultation clarified the views of emergency management personnel as the roles of, and the opportunities and challenges for, local government in supporting their communities in dealing with hazards and emergencies.

A workshop in December 2013 clarified the structure of the Health Check in the context of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (NSDR). The participants began populating the evaluation questions for each of the “goals” and KPIs, formulated by the group, within the NSDR structure. This information was collated and edited, and circulated for review and correction by attendees before being distributed to all stakeholders and interested councils. Feedback from the councils guided a significant revision of the Health Check, focusing on simplifying the questions and using the KPIs as “prompts” to provide information on the frame and context of the question, and the kinds of actions that could be considered both in evaluation and to progress emergency management within a council. The revised structure has been improved through iterative reviews and support for improved functionality. The Health Check was demonstrated at the Project Launch in September, with ongoing minor revisions to improve outputs for councils.

A revised User Guide accompanies the release version of the Health Check to explain installation, and the options for using the Health Check.

For more information see the Fact Sheet.

An important part of the Health Check will be to provide resources for Local Government to promote learning from the experience of others. The SCCG would be pleased to receive suggestions as to useful publications, policies, plans and procedures that might be adapted by councils seeking to improve their contributions to Emergency Management.

The SCCG is grateful for the funding and support from the Ministry of Police and Emergency Services, and our Advisory Committee with representatives of member councils, universities, OEH, DoPE, DoH, DLG, SES, RFS.


Project Launch

On 17 September 2014, the SCCG launched the project outcomes. A Forum and Panel Discussion featured a keynote presentation by Mr. Phil Koperberg AO BEM AFSM looking at the role of Local Government in emergency management, supported by other speakers who looked at approaches for improving capability and resilience of Local Government in emergency management, supported by other speakers who looked at approaches for improving the capability and resilience of Local Government fulfil their roles in emergency management.

The broad themes that cover the concerns of the participants include:

    • The need for leadership in emergency management with improved understanding and coordination between agencies and levels of government.
    • Clarity on the role of local government in PPRR and local government capacity and capability to respond to large scale emergencies.
    • The lack of resources at all levels of government, particularly for Prevention and Preparation, and the implications of the new plans and procedures for local emergency management planning.
    • Complacency and lack of commitment to planning between emergencies and the need to support the necessary work to prepare the community and to share responsibility for emergency management planning and to build resilience.
    • Co-ordination and communication can work together to inform and engage the community to build resilience. Complacency and different concerns and priorities can undermine clear and consistent messages leading to confusion and apathy.

The Launch Report is available here.

Implementing and Embedding an Emergency Management Health Check for Local Government (EMP Stage 2)

The SCCG received funding from the Office of Emergency Management under the State Emergency Management Projects Program to continue Stage 2 of the Emergency Management Health Check.

In late 2015 SCCG commenced the state wide project to enhance, implement and embed the Emergency Management Health Check into local government processes and frameworks.

The project objectives are to:

  1. Develop the Pilot Health Check (from the stage 1 project) into a functional tool, enabling strategic assessment of emergency management responses in Local Government
  2. Develop and implement a state-wide engagement program to raise awareness of and assist councils in embedding the Health Check tool
  3. Enable integration of emergency management actions across relevant functional areas of Councils including Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework (IPRF), Asset Management and Business Continuity Plans
  4. Increase the capability of Local Councils to plan for emergencies and engage with stakeholders
  5. Quantify local and regional emergency management commitments and improve reporting and follow up action by local councils.

A Project Advisory Committee was set up to support and advise on project deliverables; including representatives from the Office of Emergency Management, local councils, state government and Universities.

SCCG engaged consulting firm Janellis to functionalise the tool, facilitate stakeholder workshops and to develop a resource package for local councils.

View the project factsheet here.

Stakeholder engagement workshops were undertaken across NSW to raise awareness and gain feedback and input into the draft tool, particularly the questions framework. Workshops were held at North Sydney, Newcastle, Dubbo, Ballina, Ulladulla and Lidcombe.

Workshops were open to all Councils including staff involved in emergency management, risk management, business continuity planning, governance, environment, asset management and community services. The Regional Emergency Management Officers and representatives of the combat agencies were also invited to provide feedback.

As a component of the project an online ‘Health Check Tool’ and an online resource toolkit have been developed and can be accessed from the project website.

This website is now live – go to: emhealthcheck.com.au

The Tool will enable councils to assess their own level of performance ‘health’ in relation to emergency management planning, preparedness, response, recovery and overall resilience.