A New Method for Spatial Analysis of Risk in Water Resources Engineering Management

Slobodan P. Simonovic*, Shohan S. Ahmad*
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B9.

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© 2007 Simonovic and Ahmad.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B9; E-mails: ,


Uncertainty in water resources management is in part about variability, in part about ambiguity. Both are associated with lack of clarity because of the behavior of all system components, lack of data, lack of detail, lack of structure to consider the water resources management problems, working and framing assumptions being used to consider the problems, known and unknown sources of bias, and ignorance about how much effort it is worth expending to clarify the management situation. The two major sources of variability are temporal and spatial heterogeneity. Temporal variability occurs when values fluctuate with time. Other values which are affected by spatial variability are dependent upon location of an area. A major part of the water resources management risk confusion relates to an inadequate distinction between the objective risk (real, physical) and subjective (perceived) risk. Because of the confusion between the two concepts, many characteristics of subjective risk are believed to be valid also for objective risk. The main objective of this paper is to present the possible methodology for the reliability analysis of water resources systems that will be capable of: (a) addressing water resources uncertainty caused by variability and ambiguity; (b) integrating objective and subjective risk; and (c) assisting the water resources management based on better understanding of spatial variability of risk. Presented methodology is illustrated using flood reliability analysis of the Medway Creek floodplain in the City of London, Ontario, Canada.