Casella STORM Guardian helps build flood safety and awareness - Case Study

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Courtesy of Casella

Casella has helped Northamptonshire County Council to raise safety and awareness in the region by supplying robust rain gauges to 15 local communities. The Casella STORM Guardian rain gauges can collect rainfall data remotely and mitigate the risk from the increasing incidence of high intensity rainfall and flash flooding.

The Issue

It is a common perception amongst homeowners living away from rivers or coastal areas or when there are periods of drought and water shortages that the risk of flooding is not possible. However, the hottest and driest weather conditions are often preceded by thunderstorms or flash flooding. In urban areas, heavy rainfall over dry land with poor absorption increases run-off, overwhelming the drainage capacity in the local area. Recent extreme weather in the UK has caused widespread devastation and reminded the country of the high level of threat that it faces from flooding. Against this background, Northamptonshire County Council set out to raise both safety and awareness by organising an outreach programme and siting a series of rain gauges across the county. The initiative was prepared to address the Council’s responsibilities as a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFAs), since all Unitary Authorities and two tier County Councils have been assigned a number of duties and powers under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 relating to the management of local flood risk. .. Funding for the project was available to Northamptonshire County Council since, spurred by the recent floods, the environment secretary confirmed £21m worth of grants to help Councils protect and support their own community when managing flood risk.

The Challenge

“The objective of the project was three-fold,” explained Josie Bateman, Senior Project Manager, Northamptonshire County Council. “Firstly, it was about us getting better Casella’s intelligence in relation to rainfall levels across the county so that we could start building up a historic picture of rainfall levels. Secondly, we wanted to raise awareness within primary schools and educate children about the rainfall level and the water cycle. And the third objective was to enable communities to take their own initiative in terms of creating early warning systems. To achieve all of these objectives we needed rain gauges that would be robust, easy to set up and simple to monitor and the Casella STORM Guardian met all of those needs.”

The Solution

STORM Guardian was chosen because of Casella’s experience in producing rain gauges but also because the data logger, battery and telemetry and all the main components are housed together, making for easy installation. The Casella STORM Guardian is a Tipping Bucket Rain Gauge (TBRG) mounted on a cast aluminium-alloy base, which incorporates a built-in spirit level to achieve correct and accurate positioning of the bucket. To withstand the elements the modern TBRG is made entirely from non-corrosive materials, with key components such as bases, septum rings and funnels all fashioned in aluminium alloy and protectively coated, while integral loggers and batteries can be IP65 rated to prevent water ingress.

Key to the success of these gauges is that data can be accessed from anywhere in the world thanks to integral GSM/GPRS telemetry and a dedicated website. Additionally, it will operate in remote conditions for up to seven years without the need for a solar panel thanks to ultra -low power electronics making for simple installation and low total cost of ownership. Email alerts and optional texts are also invaluable tools should rainfall exceed set limits that are indicative of imminent flooding.

The first STORM Guardian was located at Yelvertoft Primary School, a community that is at risk of surface water and river flooding, and Northamptonshire County Council has decided that placing the remainder in schools will best achieve its objectives.

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