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Measuring and forecasting urban rainfall more accurately

Posted on 03 December 2015.

Improving urban rainfall forecasting and so more effectively protecting people lies at the heart of the European RainGain research project.

Technology in the service of forecasting

The extreme rainfall events that regularly occur across the globe confirm the need for better rainfall forecasting and better urban flood prevention. This is the focus of the European RainGain research project (Interreg NWE IVB) (external – the aim is to more effectively protect people and infrastructure against extreme rainfall events. The RainGain program uses advanced technology - X-band radar and dual polarization, which is a reliable, accurate and very high resolution tool for measuring rainfall. RainGain has now been installed on four pilot site in Leuven, London, Rotterdam and Paris. The four sites are working with the US CASA program and with the Japanese TOMACS project - the first ones to deploy these X-band radars in urban areas. In France, the École des Ponts ParisTech coordinates the working group responsible not only for acquiring and installing the test radar in Paris and Rotterdam, but also for improving the radar in Leuven and monitoring London. Through its "Hydrology for a Resilient City" chair, Veolia quite naturally became involved in the project. With the support of Ile-de-France region and the Interreg IVB NWE program, the group made it possible to purchase a radar which was installed in December 2014 on the Bienvenüe building of the École des Ponts in Paris. The goal of the RainGain program is to make this new forecasting technology available to as many users as possible: local government, businesses, water managers and the emergency services.

Technology in the service of urban resilience

In Copenhagen, via its Scandinavia subsidiary Krüge, Veolia developed Star Utility Solutions. The set of solutions deployed by means of a smart grid has two aims. The first is to control the wastewater flows through the networks and treatment plants to avoid overflows into the natural environment – and in particular into the port area which has been recently developed into a recreational and residential space. In practical terms it helped reduce wastewater overflows by 90% between 2013 and 2014 in the Danish capital. And the second aim of this modeling tool is to anticipate substantial rainfall events using a cutting edge weather monitoring system. The idea is to offer cities a tool to help them develop their resilience to climate change and the accompanying extreme weather events. Resisting and adapting to the vagaries of the climate is an extremely hot topic!