Autonomous warning system to protect drivers from flooded creeks

February 23, 2024

The city of Bryan has installed  an autonomous flood early warning system to protect motorists from becoming trapped in creeks during storms and heavy rainfall.

The Bryan Flood Early Warning System (B-FEWS) uses high floodwater alert sensors placed along 20 flood-prone roadways across Bryan. Once these gauging stations detect rising water, they alert emergency response crews and city staff in real-time to the road’s location and condition. Crews can then take preemptive steps to barricade flooded roadways.

The city integrated B-FEWS with its online maps, allowing the system to provide dynamic updates with the latest information on flooding and road closures. In addition, the B-FEWS provides visual warning to anyone in proximity to flooded areas, using flashing beacons to alert drivers to turn around and avoid danger. The system will also send text messages and email notifications, updating residents on road conditions and evacuation directions.

Bryan stores all information catalogued by the B-FEWS in a database. The database archives storms, historical storm recall and hydrologic data such as water level, streamflow and precipitation. The data helps the city make informed decisions on properly handling flood events.

The B-FEWS is a part of the city’s Floodplain Management Plan, designed to mitigate risk to people and property from flood hazards. The plan covers 53 measures for the city to implement in response to flooding, profiling hazards including stormwater and localized flooding, dam failure, erosion and riverine flooding. The city identified five goals to achieve through this plan:

  • Protect public health and safety from flood dangers.
  • Increase outreach and public awareness to enhance community response to protecting property from flood damage.
  • Preserve natural open space, green space and drainage corridors to protect floodplain functionality.
  • Improve stormwater management.
  • Maintain the continuity of critical and essential services by protecting critical infrastructure.

The city used a grant from the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) to create the B-FEWS. The 86th Texas Legislature created the FIF in 2019 to provide loans and grants to help flood control, flood mitigation and drainage projects. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) collaborates with the Texas General Land Office (GLO) and Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to administer the funds.

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Photo by Bob McMillan

Adam Rollins

Adam Rollins brings his expertise as a Researcher and Writer to the Managing Editor role for several of SPI's key publications, including Government Contracting Pipeline, Texas Government Insider, and the latest addition, Government Market News. With a rich background as a freelance Content Specialist, Adam has honed a passion for learning and information gathering, delving into various industries. His research and writing have spanned a range of topics, from artificial intelligence (AI) technology, conservation, and project outsourcing, to managed IT services and software development.

Holding a bachelor's degree in English from Texas State University, Adam's proficiency in message development is complemented by his robust research skills and seasoned writing experience. These attributes make him an invaluable asset to SPI, ensuring the delivery of insightful and impactful content to the company's clientele.

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