Flood Management Risk Tools and Flood Sensors

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services partnered with the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) to develop and test additional resilience tools at the local level. Charlotte is an urban environment where these enhancements can be researched, developed and tested within existing systems. This is a unique opportunity to leverage existing system of USGS stream gages, data, and technology that could be effectively shared with other communities. Learn more by watching the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate video.

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Resources for Interested Communities

Flood Sensor Integration and Installation

Storm Water Services integrated the low cost flood sensors into the Flood Information Notification System (FINS) based on the deployment plan. This task included activities such as installation of the sensors, explore rapid deployment plan for significant events, quality assessment and quality testing of the sensors deployed, performance evaluation and analysis of the sensors, and alerts for First responders.

CMSWS developed an implementation and deployment plan for deploying low-cost flood sensors in an urban environment within the existing FINS, which relies on communications from field gage data for automated flood monitoring and alert notification. Low-cost flood sensors obtained by CMSWS and were integrated into the FINS network. All data reporting capabilities for each sensor type were tested with a focus on data quality, data reporting capacity, sensor reporting interference, and sensor calibration. CMSWS focused on methods to receive, store, and disseminate sensor data using proprietary and publicly available software packages.

Flood Inundation Mapping

Using historical records in combination with available stream sensor technology, CMSWS produces Flood Inundation Maps during a heavy rainfall event to indicating extent of flooding, depth of floodwater and properties affected. Emergency responders track flood water almost real-time to make decisions to save lives and property from rising water. Knowing the extent of the flooding help the community identify at-risk areas and place resources to those locations.

Using more then 130 USGS Stream Gages and Low-Cost Flood Sensors, CMSWS gathers data for a large portion of the FEMA Regulated Streams throughout Mecklenburg County.

Avoided Losses

Mecklenburg County Storm Water Services operates a very aggressive Flood Mitigation Program which is well known throughout the country. Through our buyout program CMSWS has removed more than 450 high-risk homes and businesses once located in the floodplain.


Families have been relocated to a less vulnerable location.


Acres of public space has been left undeveloped to allow the floodplain during heavy rain.


Future projected savings.

Flood Sensor Communication, Automation and Display

CMSWS provided research expertise on communication, automation, and display of data originating from the low-cost flood sensors into the Flood Information Notification System (FINS). The task included activities such sensor communication research and automated integration and display of the sensor data into the flood risk management tools (RARR).

Sensor Communication Research