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Cost Effective Neural Technique for Alleviation of Urban Flood Risk

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CENTAUR (Cost Effective Neural Technique for Alleviation of Urban Flood Risk)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-08-31

Urban flood risk is increasing in Europe as a result of climate change and urbanisation. Urban flooding causes property damage, health risks, and economic disruption and damages the natural environment. In urban areas flooding commonly occurs when the local sewer network is incapable of conveying the rainfall runoff during intense storm events. A typical response for water utilities to this incapacity would be the construction of new in-system storage tanks or sustainable drainage systems. These responses are disruptive and costly and their implementation is also constrained by local land use policies.
The CENTAUR (Cost Effective Neural Technique to Alleviate Urban flood Risk) project has developed a system to alleviate urban flood risk by more effectively using the existing storage volume in sewer networks. It is a significantly less costly and more resource efficient solution than building new drainage infrastructure. This innovative and adaptable technology works by controlling the flows in sewers with a Flow Control Device (FCD) which is operated by a local monitoring and control system (LMCS). The LMCS is driven by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that uses live measured water level data to make control decisions. It operates autonomously using locally collected in-sewer water level data to deliver flood risk reduction. Previous real time control systems for sewer networks have been centralised, large, complex and costly and have been applied over a large area.
The project webpage provides a more detailed overview of the project, describes the technology, provides links to the commercialisation partners and outlines CENTAUR’s potential future impact. The CENTAUR consortium was composed of three university / research institute partners, two small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and two water utilities.
During the project, the consortium has delivered an integrated system that was initially tested in the laboratory. A pilot CENTAUR system has been installed in Coimbra, PT; this became operational in October 2017. It has shown the capability to reduce downstream flow rates and depths. Using the experience gained in Coimbra, the CENTAUR system was re-engineered to increase reliability and reduce cost. A market-ready demonstration system has been installed in Toulouse, FR, becoming operational in November 2018. The CENTAUR development has been split into the following activities:
1) Local Monitoring and Control System (LMCS) integrated with a Flow Control Device (FCD)
The LMCS monitors water levels and uses an AI control algorithm to move the FCD and thus control in-sewer flows. Different AI approaches were considered and a Fuzzy Logic (FL) based algorithm was adopted. The FCD has been designed so that it fits into a standard manhole, so that no new construction is required. The latest version has been optimised for power requirements. The LMCS has been integrated with the modified FCD to form the market ready CENTAUR system. The system operates autonomously so requires minimal operator intervention. A web interface allows data to be viewed remotely and also for settings to be updated remotely.

2) Testing of the integrated CENTAUR system
A full scale laboratory test facility provided time varying flows to simulate the effects of rainfall runoff in storms. The CENTAUR system, consisting of an LMCS integrated with the FCD, was installed in the test facility. The tests were utilised to refine the FL algorithm and examine the reliability of the integrated LMCS and FCD systems. The laboratory results proved that the CENTAUR system was ready for field deployment.
The combined sewer network in Coimbra, which has a history of flooding problems, was selected for the pilot installation. A CENTAUR system has been installed in an existing manhole with a water level monitoring point located 300 m downstream. Testing commenced in October 2017. The site installation includes a web interface displaying measured data. Lessons from the pilot activity were used to re-engineer the CENTAUR system to make it more reliable, easier to install, use less power and reduce the cost.
A re-engineered CENTAUR system has been installed at a ‘demonstration’ site in Toulouse, FR. This demonstration site was selected to have different characteristics to the Coimbra site. The drainage system was a separated storm water network and it was subject to more intense rainfall than Coimbra.
Results from the demonstration site show that the latest version of the CENTAUR system functions as expected and is now considered “market ready”.

3) Exploitation and Dissemination
A key aim of the CENTAUR Innovation Action is to deliver innovative technology with economic and societal impact. To raise awareness of CENTAUR all of the partners have been involved in communication and dissemination activities which have targeted water utilities and their supply chains, as well as policy makers who can influence the up-take of new technology. These activities also targeted civil society and the general public who will benefit from the technology through reduced flood risk at lower costs. These activities have generated significant worldwide interest in CENTAUR. The CENTAUR system was awarded the “Most Innovative Technology of the Year” at the UK’s Water Industry Awards in May 2018. The SME partners have been involved in feasibility studies with several water utilities and are expecting to make the first sales in early 2019.
The simulation studies carried out by the University partners have demonstrated that the CENTAUR concept of using local, autonomously controlled flow control devices can deliver flood risk reduction in existing sewer and drainage systems. The integration of the developed LMCS and FCD has demonstrated that the CENTAUR concept can be technically implemented. The pilot and demonstration activities have shown that the system can be installed and operated in live sewer networks. The technology is now market ready. Conventional responses for mitigating urban flood risks are costly and disruptive, for example building large underground storage tanks costs in the range of €1000 to €3000 per cubic metre and typically these tanks have a volume of many 100’s of cubic metres. Developing sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) requires collaboration with a range of stakeholders including planners and property owners and can be impractical for water utilities to implement in densely populated areas where land availability is low and land costs are high. Implementing the CENTAUR technology does not require new infrastructure or use additional land. A CENTAUR installation costs significantly less and is less disruptive than the conventional flood risk reduction options.
In terms of impact, the UK government water regulator OFWAT has identified 3644 properties with an unacceptable risk from sewer flooding and that require remedial action from water utilities. Urban flooding occurs throughout the EU, so the overall impact in Europe will involve many thousands of properties. There is therefore a significant market for local autonomous local flow control solutions to be delivered to provide an economic level of flood protection. From the results of the analysis of this potential market it has been estimated that the implementation of CENTAUR in the EU will create up to 90 jobs in the partner SMEs and their wider supply chain.