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Hathaway’s Smart Stormwater Systems Gets a Boost from NSF

A shallow layer of water sits on top of a road.

Associate Professor Jon Hathaway envisions that smart technologies will help city managers and environmental nonprofits sense changes in weather, flows, and/or water quality and adapt stormwater system operation using active controls such as gates, valves, and pumps.

For instance, in advance of major rain events, a smart stormwater system could allow managers to slowly release water being stored in local ponds or other detention systems to make room for incoming runoff to help stem flooding.

In addition to the $1.8M NSF grant that is about halfway through, the team has received an additional supplement of $310K to help community groups adopt sensors, data analysis algorithms, and control systems developed by the research team. The team intends to use the vast majority of additional funding to supply community partners with reliable open source sensors, hardware and software, while working with community staff to deploy them.

We feel that there is an immense opportunity to accelerate the adoption of our technologies by new communities and non-profit environmental groups, effectively expanding our transition to practice. Our role will be to put these technologies into their hands, support them in the deployments, and help operationalize these systems.”

—Jon Hathaway

Hathaway says he hopes this supplemental grant will have significant impacts on the day-to-day operations, environmental health, and the cost-benefit of stormwater management for four distinct community groups in the US.

The groups supported by funding include Washtenaw County Water Resource Office in Washtenaw, Michigan; Knox County Stormwater in Knoxville; the Huron River Watershed Council, which includes seven Michigan counties; and Sierra Club of Detroit and Friends of the Rouge River.

Hathaway anticipates that the positive impact of the project so far will have the additional benefit of empowering other communities to join the growing group of adopters.