“The Rain Event,” as the water gurus call the May downpours, brought a fresh angle to an already planned water workshop that started Thursday: The rains exposed weaknesses in flood control systems.
Dallas had 33 pumps working continuously to move water off the streets after the deluge, said Dhruv Pandya, an assistant director of the Trinity Watershed Management Department for the City of Dallas. The situation revealed a need for a pump station in southwest Dallas, among other things, Pandya said.
Pandya was among the experts at the Sustainable Urban Water Workshop at the University of Texas at Arlington on Thursday. Officials from Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Dallas and other North Texas cities were on hand.
Ideas that came out of Thursday’s session include data sharing with other cities, making sure there are enough low water crossing warnings and planning urban areas with green space that allows adequate drainage both nearby and downstream.
“We need to seize this opportunity,” said Dong-Jun Seo, an associate professor of civil engineering at the university. “It is kind of interesting and sobering that we had these extreme drought conditions and now the extreme flooding.”
He said experts and city leaders should address flood planning needs now, before another flood strikes.
At some points during May’s torrential rains, areas were being deluged with as much as 7 inches an hour, Pandya said.
“This is one of the heaviest rainfalls we have had in the month of May since everybody started keeping records,” Pandya said.
The severe weather also exposed weaknesses in the levee system, he said.
Pandya said cities dealing with flood planning grapple with issues such as funding, aging infrastructure, finding and hiring talented professionals and new technology.
Experts from the National Weather Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and water utilities were expected to speak Friday.
The two-day event was sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Innovation for Sustainability, Science and Engineering Program, the UT Arlington College of Engineering’s Department of Civil Engineering, the UT Arlington Institute of Sustainability and Global Impact and the UT Arlington Urban Water Institute.
It is part of a four-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675