Community resilience? How Hydro International is helping communities monitor flood risk
Words provided by Hydro International
In the last few months, the UK has had the hottest and wettest weather on record and the risk of extreme weather fluctuations, often bringing very localised impacts, seems all set to continue. Data monitoring remains essential to help hydrologists, council staff and communities understand and mitigate immediate potential risk to their lives and properties. As well as being able to respond to the here and now, we need data to give us the ability to look for trends for contingency planning. Whilst there are well tested critical resilience and emergency plans in place for major flooding, these tend to rely on controlled release of information to the public. But what if communities could access real-time monitoring data and, at agreed risk thresholds, be alerted directly?
As part of the DEFRA-funded Herefordshire and Worcestershire Natural Flood Management project, Hydro International is installing monitoring gauges for the natural flood management wooded debris scheme. The team are also delivering training to local people to help them understand how the monitoring works. By installing water level sensors or rain gauges and then agreeing with the local authority what water level or rainfall intensity should trigger alerts via text message to local residents, potential flood risks can be alleviated as the speed of direct communication increases the chance of any action needed being taken. After the training, the residents will be able to log into the system so they can monitor the data too.
Feedback from a similar project in Devon, highlighted the reassurance that the system gave to local residents with one commenting,
“It’s dark, it rains – and now thanks to Hydro-Logic® Services… we go to bed rather than nervously watching the stream rise, and sleep soundly in the knowledge that we will have plenty of time to organise our defences if the river rises to the trigger point.”
Local Authorities also benefit from being able to create tailored flood warning systems and can move from carrying out routine clearance of debris from trash screens, which tends to be more costly, to proactive, targeted and responsive maintenance based on data.