Practical Applications of Low-Cost Water Level Flood Early Warning Systems

Redenbach, Mitchell (2018) Practical Applications of Low-Cost Water Level Flood Early Warning Systems. [USQ Project]


Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS) are an integral part of disaster preparedness for the Australian community. FEWS’s are comprised of numerous essential components including water level gauges, rainfall data, communication systems and flood modelling to provide timely and accurate warning of approaching flood waters. As these components increase in complexity not only does the accuracy and functionality of FEWS’s rise, so too does the cost. Without state or federal government funding it is unlikely that most communities can afford a Bureau of Meteorology standard FEWS.

This research investigates the potential to create a FEWS solely of low-cost water level gauges with a primary objective to increase the financial availability of a FEWS, thereby being able to provide this vital service to a broad range of communities. To achieve this goal, this research looks at identifying upstream water levels which cause flood events and evaluates how LowCost Water Level Gauges can be implemented. Lagoon Creek, which runs through Jondaryan has been selected as the case study for this FEWS due to its low to immunity to flooding.

The water level gauge consists of an AEGIS data logger coupled with a General Electric pressure transducer and has been lab tested to analyse its performance with respect to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Flood Warning Infrastructure Standard. The Low-Cost Water Level gauge was tested for collectability, interpretability, availability and assurability as per the Bureau of Meteorology specifications. The Low-Cost Water Level gauge was shown to be accurate to within 20mm and have a response time of no longer than 6 minutes providing adequate and accurate response during an event.

An XP-RAFTS rainfall-runoff hydrologic model coupled with a TUFLOW HPC hydraulic model has been developed to allow analysis of water level trends to occur and understand the practicality of implementing a Low-Cost Water Level gauge FEWS. The hydraulic model has been validated against Toowoomba Regional Councils 1% AEP flood map and analysis of water level was completed using a variety of QGIS tools and Microsoft Excel. Key finding of the Lagoon Creek flood model indicated it is possible and viable to create a FEWS using only Low-Cost Water Level gauges, yet depends on a variety of factors including the number of upstream tributaries. This research also showed that with the proposed system Jondaryan could have 50 minutes warning time for a 1% AEP event.

This research project shows that developing a FEWS using only LCWL gauges has the potential to predict flooding in Jondaryan in a timely manner to coordinate emergency response using pre-determined upstream water level heights. The accuracy of the flood modelling and the gauge testing are discussed throughout this dissertation and the implications of using of these two components in a FEWS is analysed in a practical sense.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 40734
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Baillie, Justine; Carlisle, Wendy
Qualification: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Civil)
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2022 22:19
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2023 02:29
Uncontrolled Keywords: flood early warning system; water level; low-cost

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only