RAA introduces Lead Local Flood Authorities to Real Time Urban Flood Forecasting

South West Flood Risk Managers keen to hear about the latest tool for Flood Forecasting

Rapid urbanisation combined with a warmer wetter climate means 3.2 million people in the UK alone will be at higher risk of flooding by 2050. The most recent period of flooding alone is expected to cost as much as £5bn.

There are new ways of approaching this issue and the latest forecasting technology has been developed by RAA using ICM Live which can now give street by street flood warnings to councils. Using this technology also provides Water Companies and Local Authorities with timely, accurate and reliable forecasts of what will happen within a catchment, based on past and current observations of multiple data sources along with future rainfall predictions.

Following a successful trial in the Wessex Water area of Bournemouth & Poole Richard Allitt was asked to present to the South West Flood Risk Managers Group on the benefits that this real time urban flood forecasting can bring for both Local Authorities and Water Companies. The group comprises representation from the Lead Local Flood Authority, the Environment Agency and the Water Companies 

RAA Specialist Hydraulic Modelling Fundamental to Success

Many hydraulic models are large and slow to run making them unsuitable for real time simulations so it was the expertise applied by Richard Allitt Associates which provided the step change in the use of the ICM technology. The software requires a skilled hydraulic modeller who can adapt existing models and simplify them without loss of accuracy.

Multiple Data Sources delivers Accurate Forecasts

The new tool combines the use of InfoWorks ICM which is the latest program for Integrated Catchment Modelling with the ICM Time-Series Database and ICM Live. Together they provide fast, accurate, deterministic hydraulic modelling of the holistic flooding process.

InfoWorks ICM has been specially developed for urban flooding and can simulate all flooding processes; it is highly scalable and can model “micro” features such as kerbs, gullies, walls, sleeping policemen etc. and produces direct outputs & visualizations so there is no post processing.

ICMLive designed to Dispense Alerts & work Automatically

ICM Live can provide accurate forecasts at household level and will set up triggers & alarms at pre-set thresholds which can then be sent out as email alerts to nominated recipients or automatically update selected websites. This enables fast dissemination of which areas need attention and what options might be taken. Being alerted to the precise location of flooding enables mitigating resources to be more cost efficiently applied.

Preventative Measures enable Cost Efficiencies  

The forecasting alerts not only allow measures to be taken during the flooding event to mitigate flooding effects but there are also significant benefits from this modelling tool for Water Companies. Operational managers can now be informed by the hindcast period of the flood simulations whereby they can identify blockages, pump failures and other issues. This knowledge is invaluable for operational managers who can more accurately:

  • Schedule pump and gate operation
  • Evaluate different control strategies
  • Maximize the use of system storage
  • Reduce energy CO2 costs

This enhanced level of knowledge not only mitigates flooding incidents but can drive cost efficiencies.


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