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Scioto River Stage Prediction Augmentation

Columbus, OH

EMH&T was part of a team assisting the City of Columbus, Department of Public Utilities to evaluate programs for improving the prediction of flood stages along the Scioto River as it passes through the downtown reach. Specifically, the City wanted to improve the operation of the West Columbus Floodwall, which provides flood protection for a large area on the west side of the river. The City’s program relied almost exclusively on the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (NWS-AHPS) to predict flood stages, with documented instances of ‘false alarms’ which led to the unnecessary mobilization of the City’s resources to close flood gates, as well as general uncertainty related to informing City leaders and the public at large regarding potential flooding events and the associated flood protection activities. The team worked together to identify potential improvements associated with the flood stage prediction process by providing a comprehensive evaluation of NWS procedures, including data collection and modeling protocols, to determine potential areas of deficiency where refinements could potentially improve the accuracy of the flood prediction process. The data collection process for this study included coordination with significant watershed stakeholders, such as the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) who all operate rainfall and/or river gage equipment in this watershed area. The preferred method to improve flood prediction relied on an advanced hydraulic of the Scioto River along with additional rainfall and river gages in the upper portion of the watershed.

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