Montgomery Deploys High-Tech Flood Sensor Program

Recently Montgomery County officials released information on a new High-Tech Flood Sensor Program that can provide earlier alerts about potential flooding.

Montgomery County recently showcased its expanded early warning Flood Sensor Program that can alert residents sooner about flooded roadways, potential dam failures and streams overflowing their banks. The U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate is providing the County with the sensors.

The sensors detect rising water levels and provide early warnings about high water or flooding.  They are being installed at flood-prone sites across the County. Each sensor is solar-powered and has an internal battery to maintain operations during inclement weather. The sensors use a tethered node that is placed underwater. The node detects the amount of pressure placed upon it by the water and calculates the depth of the water. Every five minutes, data is sent from the sensor by a cell phone card to a master display. A small color camera also sends images back to the main display. Every location has pre-determined thresholds for water depths for the sensor to alert that water levels are approaching or exceeding flood stage. If they are, a crew is sent to investigate the potential flooding and whether a low-lying road needs to be cleared, or if an Emergency Action Plan for a dam needs to be activated.

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) led the effort to get the sensors and the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) worked on a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with DHS and Intellisense Systems Inc., the company that makes the devices.  The County will share the data gathered by the sensors with the company and DHS to improve sensor design based on user feedback.

According to the press release:

“This partnership between DHS and the County is critical to our efforts in warning Montgomery County residents about dangerous and life-threatening floods,” said County Executive Elrich. “Just a few weeks ago, heavy rain caused flash flooding that left several drivers stranded in their vehicles in Bethesda. Flooding also led to road closures in parts of the County. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. The County is no stranger to this kind of weather event, but now that we have these flood sensors, we can notify residents sooner of where flooding is happening so they can avoid danger.”

Sensors have been installed in 22 locations. An additional 13 sensors will be established. The locations of the installed sensors are:

  • University Boulevard pond
  • Wheaton—downstream of dam
  • Olney Oaks Regional
  • Wheaton Pond dam
  • Lake Hallowell
  • Vineyard
  • Christie Estates
  • Great Seneca Creek at Brink Road
  • Rattlewood Golf Course dam
  • 8900 block of Gue Road at unnamed creek
  • 11200 block of Game Preserve Road
  • New Cut Road at Little Seneca Creek
  • Environ HOA
  • Gunners Lake dam
  • Lake Whetstone
  • Pueblo
  • Sligo Creek at Knowles Avenue
  • Hawlings River at Brighton Dam Road
  • Reddy Branch at Brookeville Road
  • Pine Lake dam
  • Hawlings River at Zion Road
  • Burnt Mills dam

Read the full press release. 

Lear more about County flooding preparations. 

Sign up for text alerts. 

For emergency text alerts, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OEMHS/AlertMontgomery/

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