Development of Guidance for Flood Early Warning Systems

Nick Fang, PhD, P.E.

 

Associate Professor

Philip B. Bedient,

PhD, P.E., P.H.

Professor

Michael Zaretsky

 

Associate Professor

Samuel Brody, PhD

 

Professor

The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington

Texas A&M Galveston

The state of Texas is vulnerable to various extreme weather events, including record amounts of rain, such as the multiple events in 2015 and 2016, and the catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Recognizing the state’s long and well-documented history of flooding and hurricanes, as well as its ongoing efforts to mitigate future disaster effects in its most vulnerable areas, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) stepped up to lead the efforts of rebuilding a disaster-resilient Texas. How the impacts of these events need to be mitigated will depend on many solutions, and one of such is Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS). The FEWS, as non-structural flood mitigation tools, have become more popular among the flood-prone communities than ever due to their life-saving functions like rainfall and river level monitoring, real-time flood forecasting, and estimating potential damages to different communities while remaining low cost compared to other infrastructure-related mitigation solutions. Many communities in Texas have years of experience in developing and enhancing the application of FEWS with individual practical needs and flood level threats.

To better share the past experience and provide a useful guidance with the communities who are considering investing in FEWS in the near future, the TWDB has tasked a strong research team led by Dr. Nick Fang (PI) (the University of Texas at Arlington), Dr. Philip B. Bedient (Co-PI) (Rice University), Professor Michael Zaretsky (Co-PI) (the University of Texas at Arlington), and Dr. Samuel Brody (Co-PI) (the Texas A&M University at Galveston) to (1) gather and organize lessons learned from the communities using FEWS to cope with repetitive flooding events, (2) make recommendations to the TWDB and state officials for regional oversight and coordination of flood mitigations, and (3) create an effective FEWS guidance manual that will be particularly tailored for the communities in Texas. Not only will the FEWS technical guidance serve for future needs in the flood mitigation grant applications but also become a reference guidance for community leaders, county judges, and floodplain managers to aid in the mitigation from future flooding events. The pertinent information will be gathered in an organized database in collaboration with TWDB, and provided for use by the TWDB, other governmental entities, and the public.