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KC Water Services Keeps a Watchful Eye on Heavy Rainfall

Posted on May 22, 2015

(Kansas City, Mo.) – When the water rises, KC Water Services’ employees will be watching. KC Water Services has created and installed a system of 225 rainfall and stream level sensors that monitor flood areas through Kansas City. These sensors assist the City’s Office of Emergency Management and help keep customers safe.

As an integral part of the City’s Flood Warning System, these sensors track how much rain is falling at a certain time. Most sensors are connected to Pressure Transducers that are placed in the waterway and measure the height and weight of the water. Higher levels and more weight means more water is flowing at that point.

These sensors relay real-time information to computers monitored by KC Water Services. During a rain event, employees use this information to predict what might happen downstream. If water levels are rising too quickly, employees can alert authorities to place barricades or evacuate an area if necessary.

James Walton, a Stormwater Engineer for KC Water Services, urges customers to obey barricades that are placed in roadways. “It’s not worth it to try to drive through flood waters. That seemingly small amount of water in your way could cost you your life. Less than one foot of water can send you and your car downstream into waters up to 47 feet deep with speeds over 20 mph in some rivers during a flood! Flood waters are stronger than any of us realize. It’s not worth your life, so please turn around and find a safer, higher road that’s not flooded.”

Walton says that while the system is a good tool to monitor conditions, it is not fool-proof and no municipality or county can protect life and property from all that Mother Nature has to bare in terms of rain and floodwaters.

If you find yourself in a flooded area, do not cross flooded roads. Instead, find a way out that is not flooded. And, if needed, call 911.

To learn more about smart sensors, the data that is collected from these sensors, and to view a map showing where sensors are distributed throughout Kansas City, please check out Chartland, the City’s Office of Performance Management’s blog. The new blog post, “How a smart sensor may just save your life,” can be found here.

More information about the City’s Office of Emergency Management can be found here.

For more information, please contact Brooke Givens, Media Relations Coordinator, at or 816.513.0284.


KC Water maintains and operates water treatment and distribution systems, stormwater management systems, and wastewater collection and treatment systems for residential and business customers in Kansas City and for wholesale customers in the Kansas City area. KC Water is primarily funded by fees charged to customers based on their use or impacts on the three utility systems.

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