Pilot project to bring new flood sensors to Roanoke waterways

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 8:57 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - When the rain is falling and the water is rising, local governments keep a close eye on our rivers and streams.

And the city of Roanoke has a new tool to stay on top of potential flooding.

The city has deployed a new state-of-the-art flood sensor, the first of several that should give us a more complete picture of water flow in the area.

On a day of steady rain, Peters Creek is running high. And residents of the area know that heavy rain can bring high water and significant flooding.

“I lived through the Flood of ’85, I don’t want to go through that again,” said Chuck Kirby, Vice President for Smart Communities with the Center for Innovative Technology.

CIT is coordinating a flood sensor pilot project that originated with the Department of Homeland Security.

“And the ultimate goal would be to be able to do this throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Kirby told WDBJ7.

The new technology installed first on Peters Creek should expand the city’s ability to monitor water flow, for emergency response and long-range planning.

Marcus Aguilar is Roanoke’s Senior Stormwater Research Engineer.

“Here in the city we’ve got 63 total miles of streams. Ten miles are the Roanoke River and we’ve got a lot of small tributaries,” Aguilar said in an interview. "We have a lot of information on the river at this point, but we’re really working towards building our information base on our smaller waterways. That’s an important piece of the watershed management perspective that we have here at the city.

The first sensors will be located within the city limits, but Kirby said he hopes the project will eventually include other jurisdictions in the Roanoke Valley.

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