Maricopa County's new flood detection system could save lives

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 20:44:08-04

Maricopa County just upgraded its flood detection system in an effort to save lives during unpredictable monsoon storms.

For years, flood control district employees relied on flood warning maps that would flash green, yellow and red depending on the danger along watersheds. It is low-tech by today's standards.

"That hardware is so obsolete, it's not even made anymore," flood control manager Steve Waters said.

ABC15 was given access to the district's monitoring room as technicians made the final touches on a computerized big board. The fully-integrated system, allows managers to check rainfall, stream water flow, and even wind speed and air pressure at dozens of monitoring stations.

The data updates every two minutes through a system of radio signals. Flood control employees can remotely measure rainfall by the millimeter.

Check weather and flood conditions in your area using an online version of the flood monitoring system.

"We have watersheds we watch, where a stream gauge doesn't do us any good because they are so flash," Waters said. "So, we have to go on the meteorology approaching that watershed."

Officials said the new system, including a roof-mounted camera, costs about $80,000. They hope to identify flooded areas and hazards more quickly and dispatch first responders to help. As a result, they hope to save lives and property.