Professor. Srikantha Herath, Team Leader & Engineering Consultant, Real Time Control Center Metro Colombo Development Project (2016-2020), Sri Lanka

 Addressing third Public Lecture of the IESL NSW chapter 2020-2021 term, Professor. Srikantha Herath delivered a fascinating and educational lecture on 1st of May 2021. The online event has been well attended with a remarkable participation of engineers from Sri Lanka as well as from Australia. IESL NSW chapter sincerely thanks Professor. Srikantha Herath for joining us from Tokyo to share his wealth of knowledge gathered over 40 years of practice, with the engineering community around the world.

Professor. Srikantha Herath

Prof Herath’s brief career history

  • Civil (SD&CC) and Irrigation (ID) engineer in Sri Lanka (1980-1981)
  • Research Associate in Asian Institute of Technology (Remote Sensing), Thailand (1983-1984)
  • Senior research engineer, Artificial Intelligence Research Group, Nippon Koei Co., Tokyo (1988-1991)
  • Associate Professor and Professor (Foreigner chair) at International Center for Disaster-mitigation Engineering (INCEDE), the University of Tokyo (1991-2002)
  • Director, Postgraduate Programs and Head, Global Change and Resilience Program, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, United Nations University, Tokyo (2002-2016)
  • Team Leader & Engineering Consultant, Real Time Control Center Metro Colombo Development Project (World Bank funded) (2016-2020), Sri Lanka.

Professor Srikantha Herath was born in Kandy, Sri Lanka and received his primary and secondary education at Dharmaraja College. He received his tertiary education at University of Peradeniya, Faculty of Engineering in 1980 specializing in Civil Engineering, Master of Engineering degree (Water Resources Engineering) from the Asian Institute of Engineering under a scholarship from the Netherlands Government and the PhD from the University of Tokyo in 1988 in Civil Engineering under a Japanese Government Scholarship.

Srikantha has more than 40 years of experience in civil engineering, both in industry and in academia, specializing in flood risk reduction, urban water management, climate change and impact assessment. He has been engaged in flood and disaster risk reduction projects as well as applied research with government agencies, universities, research institutions and private sector in many of countries in Asia.

Srikantha also has served international community in various capacities such as, Member in Taskforce for UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (2003-2005), Member, International Steering Committee for Global Mapping Project, Institute of Geophysical Survey, Japan (2010-2014), Advisor, International Program on Landslide (2008-2016), Co-Chairman, World Landslide Forum, 2008, Member, International Flood Initiative committee (2012-2016),  International Advisory Board Member, Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2010-2018), Invited Expert, Capacity Development, Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research(2012- 2018) and co-chair South Asian Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes (SAADRI) (2020 – Present)


This presentation will focus on four areas related to urban flood risk reduction (a) Managing urban storm water runoff (b) Risk assessment for impact-based flood management that includes operation of flood control facilities as well as for promoting flood control measures, (c) Flood early warning and (d) Response and governance.

It is well known that urbanisation increases the direct runoff many folds due to the reduction of pervious areas by impervious built up areas and the shortening of time concentration, the time that takes storm water to reach discharge networks that increase the flood frequency. This dual mechanism makes urban flood control extremely difficult, especially in rapidly urbanizing areas. An alternate approach to storm drainage, that has been progressing in parallel, is the development of onsite facilities that retain and infiltrate storm runoff, thus reducing the load on receiving waters. The author’s engagement in this area in Japan, its effectiveness and sustainability will be discussed under item (a).  Pre-disaster loss estimation based on risk exposure for disaster mitigation investment and assessment of mitigation practices will be discussed under (b) with examples from Japan and extension of the methodology to a few Asian countries.

In the second part of the presentation, application of these concepts to a case study in Sri Lanka will be presented. World Bank and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) agreed upon a loan in 2012 to support the government to reduce flooding in the Colombo Water basin under a project termed Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP). Flood control measures include construction of two micro tunnels, establishment of three pumping stations to facilitate rapid discharge from the Colombo drainage canal system, widening of existing drainage canals and construction of control gates to compartmentalize flood prone areas to reduce flood risk. A control centre has been setup to monitor, forecast, assess risk and operate these facilities. The system consists of the following components: (a) Real time weather information (rainfall, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity) and water levels from Internet of Things (IoT) based telemeter stations, (b) Weather forecasting system that forecast rainfall and a system for integration with observed rainfall, (c) Forecast river water levels and canal water levels using 2 hydrological and 3 hydrodynamic models with integrated rainfall data and rainfall forecasts, (d) Estimation of potential impacts based on population distribution in the city and digital footprint of all buildings in Colombo to estimate people at risk and potential damage based on the forecasts, and (e) Guidance for pumping stations to minimize risk. The system has been up and running since April 2020, and the inputs have also been used in designing distributed urban flood control measures. Finally, the approaches employed in the system design for sustained R&D and engagement with public will be discussed.

Recording of the public Lecture by Professor. Srikantha Herath can be accessed via the link below.
Access Passcode: IESLNSW@2021


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