871010 Torrent and avalanche control: Planning processes and engineering practice

Lecture and exercise
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Rudolf-Miklau, Florian
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


The course offers students a comprehensive insight into the planning processes and engineering practice of torrent and avalanche control in Austria. Based on the technical, economic and legal principles as well as the theoretical presentation of the established planning processes, the life cycle of protection systems for torrent and avalanche control is shown using specific planning examples.
The planning process requires the determination of the need for protection on the basis of a hazard and risk analysis (hazard zone planning) as well as the concrete initiation of the planning by beneficiaries (interested parties, usually municipalities, water associations or water cooperatives). This includes the basic survey in the catchment areas, the creation of a hazard zone plan, the development of an integral protection concept (related to the catchment area) and the definition of a protection goal, the development of a protection system with selected measures, the detailed planning according to the "state of the art", the negotiation process with those affected with regard to the financing, the basic utilization and the official concessions as well as the implementation of the protection project. This planning cycle includes both gray (technical) and green (protective forest) protection infrastructure and is to be understood as an integral protection concept of a combination of various measures adapted to the dangers.
After the protection has been implemented, the life cycle ends with the tasks of monitoring, maintaining and renewing the protection systems. Torrent and avalanche control based on the principle of sustainability is presented as a “cradle-to-cradle” cycle, which must also take into account medium and long-term natural and socio-political changes (demographic change, climate change, digitization). Green protective infrastructure (protective forest, biological engineering measures, protective effect of the area) are integral components of the (watershed management) projects and are subject to their own (forestry), long-term conservation cycles. The basic principles of the expertise required for planning processes for torrent and avalanche control as well as the specific structure of related reports are also conveyed. The central benchmark for the effectiveness of the protection systems is the established level of security, which is to be adapted to ongoing changes and also includes security redundancies for extreme events (overload). The planning process for torrent and avalanche control is practice-related and embedded in the overall context of the socio-political framework in the Austrian regions.
Building on the theoretical knowledge imparted in the lecture part, the students are accompanied in the practical part in the applied development of concrete planning processes using current examples from practice. The guided elaboration takes place in small groups and leads to a presentation of the planning results in a realistic negotiation situation.

Previous knowledge expected

In-depth knowledge from the following courses in the master’s program in Alpine Natural Hazards / Torrent and Avalanche Control:
- Compulsory courses on water hazards, avalanche hazards
- Basics of natural hazard management
- Natural hazard law

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

Ziel der Lehrveranstaltung ist die Vermittlung des Grundverständnisses und angewandten Wissens (Praxiserfahrung) über die Planungsprozesse der Wildbach- und Lawinenverbauung im Sinne der Ingenieurpraxis:
•Die Absolventen/innen der LV erwerben die Kompetenz, das im Rahmen des Masterstudiums vermittelten, theoretischen Wissens über Gefahren- und Risikoanalyse sowie Schutzmaßnahmen in Planungsprozesse der Ingenieurpraxis der Wildbach- und Lawinenverbauung umzusetzen.
•Die Absolventen/innen der LV erwerben die Fähigkeit zur selbständigen Entwicklung von umsetzungsreifen Schutzkonzepten und der Gestaltung von entsprechenden Planungsprozessen (einschließlich Gefahrenzonenplanung).
•Die Absolventen/innen der LV entwickeln ihre Schutzprojekt als nachhaltigen Planungszyklus („cradle-to-cradle“) und integrieren dieses in ein integrales Schutzsystem.
•Die Absolventen/innen der LV gestalten einen effizienten Aushandlungsprozess für die erfolgreiche Implementierung eines Gefahrenzonenplans sowie die Umsetzung der Schutzmaßnahmen unter den gegebenen rechtlichen und gesellschaftspolitischen Rahmenbedingen.
•Die Absolventen/innen der LV entwickeln ein Rollenverständnis als Planer und Fachexperte (Techniker der WLV, Ziviltechniker, Amtssachverständiger) sowie als Risikokommunikatoren mit den relevanten Stakeholdern des Planungsprozesses.
•Die Absolventen/innen der LV organisieren den Planungsprozess arbeitsteilig und im Team und gestalten die Ergebnisse nach normativen Vorgaben sowie auch entsprechender eigener kreativer Ansätze.
The aim of the course is to impart the basic understanding and applied knowledge (practical experience) about the planning processes of torrent and avalanche control in the sense of engineering practice:
•The graduates of the course acquire the competence to implement the theoretical knowledge about hazard and risk analysis as well as protective measures in planning processes of engineering practice for torrent and avalanche control.
•Graduates of the course acquire the ability to independently develop implementation-ready protection concepts and the design of corresponding planning processes (including hazard zone planning).
•The graduates of the course develop their protection project as a sustainable planning cycle ("cradle-to-cradle") and integrate this into an integral protection system.
•The graduates of the course design an efficient negotiation process for the successful implementation of a danger zone plan as well as the implementation of protective measures under the given legal and socio-political framework conditions.
•The graduates of the course develop an understanding of their roles as planners and technical experts (technicians from the WLV, civil engineers, official experts) and as risk communicators with the relevant stakeholders in the planning process.
•The graduates of the course organize the planning process in a division of tasks and in a team and design the results according to normative specifications as well as their own creative approaches.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.