The engineering company Amey is installing sensors into gullies in a trial in Hampshire aimed at preventing the flooding of roads.
"Excessive rainfall can lead to roads becoming flooded, especially if drains are blocked with silt and waste," the company says in a statement. "We are, however, trialling a new approach that we hope can avert these disruptive and potentially dangerous scenarios.
"Currently, most local authorities inspect gullies (the drainage pits covered by an open metal grating located on the road edge) on a cyclic or risk-based basis. Although efforts might be focused on gullies that are known to be more prone to flooding, so far there has not been a method that allows councils and their contractors to understand in real time when a gully is getting blocked," the statement continues.
"We are, however, now installing live sensors into gullies that will give us the data that will inform whether a gully is in need of a cleanse. These sensors measure the level of silt and the water level inside, feeding this information instantly back to a control centre managed by Amey via web-based, mapped, visualisation software.
"This software couples weather forecasting with silt levels to tell us if a gully is likely to flood over the next few days. A cleanse of that particular gully can then be instructed at a low cost, avoiding the need for subsequent emergency attendances. If the technology works well, then these gullies will only need to be cleansed when they are actually at risk of flooding, a more efficient and cost-effective approach."
Account Director Amey Paul Anderson says, "this is an exciting, new technology which should enable us to be much more proactive in terms of preventing gullies becoming flooded, as opposed to dealing with the issue in just a reactive way. We have installed 25 sensors in known ‘high risk’ gullies and are currently collecting information at these sites. If these sensors works as well as we hope they will, then it could lead to a radically different approach in Hampshire and elsewhere.”
Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, added, “heavy, intense rainfall can, as we all know, result in localised flooding, and keeping the water off the road surfaces is at the forefront of our highways work throughout the winter. These sensors should help us establish an inventory of each gully which will show us when and where we need to direct resources.”