Selected Collaborative Projects

Harnessing the power of the crowd to monitor urban street flooding

Street flooding causes traffic and emergency vehicle delays at low levels and hazardous or catastrophic damage at high levels.  Though streets dramatically outnumber streams in urban areas, pluvial flooding is not well monitored because, unlike streams, no gages exist to automatically record water depth on streets.  In this project, we will harness the power of densely populated people on streets for community monitoring of urban street flooding to achieve greater temporal and spatial coverage of flood related data than would be possible with installed sensors.  We will accomplish this by integrating and comparing multiple sources of community-based street flooding data in the Denver metropolitan area including: tweets, municipal service requests (311), municipal flood records, and citizen science monitoring through a new open access data collection platform called Flood Tracker.  The causes of flooding (fluvial or pluvial) will be investigated by comparing location and timing of street flooding to distance to streams and stream stage and rainfall comparisons with stormwater design criteria.

This work is a collaboration of PIs Aditi Bhaskar, Greg Newman, Stephanie Kampf, and Sam Zipper.  This work is funded by the Colorado Water Center. 

SPUW (South Platte Urban Water): Effects of urban water conservation on agricultural water supply in the South Platte River Basin

The overarching goal of this project is to examine how urban water management could
affect return flow quantity and timing and water availability for downstream agricultural users. The proposed work will focus on the effects of two types of urban water management: landscape irrigation (which forms about half of Colorado urban water demand) and stormwater management (infiltration and harvesting).
The two main objectives are to:
(1) quantify changes in streamflow quantity and timing with urbanization in subwatersheds of the South Platte River Basin
(2) examine how urban water management practices affect water availability for downstream agricultural users.  These objectives will be accomplished by analyzing changes in streamflow quantity and timing with urbanization and using hydrologic modeling.

This work is a collaboration with PIs Aditi Bhaskar, Stephanie Kampf, and Andre Dozier. This work is funded by Colorado State University Agricultural Experimental Station.

MPC Project: Mitigation of flood-related traffic disruptions with green infrastructure stormwater management

This project focuses on the mitigation of flooding-related traffic disruptions by implementation of green infrastructure stormwater management. Traffic disruptions can be caused during flooding events in urban areas when the existing stormwater management is not effective at stormwater drainage from roadways. Green infrastructure stormwater management uses infiltration and harvest of stormwater to reduce stormwater volumes. Urban roadway flooding will be modeled under the current conditions, as well as under scenarios of green infrastructure implementation. Then, this project will undertake a probabilistic simulation of the effect of green infrastructure implementation on traffic disruptions in the Denver metropolitan area in Colorado. This project will quantify the effectiveness of green infrastructure stormwater management for reducing traffic disruptions.

This work is a collaboration between PIs Aditi Bhaskar and Suren Chen, a CSU transportation engineer and traffic flow model expert.   Katie Knight is a water resources engineering graduate student at CSU carrying out this work.  This work is funded by the Mountain-Plains Consortium of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, a University Transportation Center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Some findings from this work:

CSU researchers examine use of green infrastructure to limit flooding impacts on traffic

 Kathryn Knight, master’s student in civil and environmental engineering at Colorado State University, defended her MS thesis, “Assessing the Use of Dual-Drainage Modeling to Determine the Effects of Green Stormwater Infrastructure Networks on Events of Roadway Flooding.” The work was part of MPC project 568, “Mitigation of Flooding-Related Traffic Disruptions with Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management.” Principal investigators on the project are Aditi Bhaskar and Suren Chen. The project focuses on the mitigation of flooding-related traffic disruptions by implementing green infrastructure stormwater management. Knight presented a webinar on her research via the One Water Solutions Institute at CSU. She is currently a water resources engineer at Wright Water Engineers, Inc., of Denver.

Based on work from the same project, MPC researcher Aditi Bhaskar participated in a webinar hosted by the Colorado State University Salazar Center for North American Conservation on Water Management, Community, and Urban Resilience. She discussed “How effective is green stormwater infrastructure for urban streams and streets?” She joined Jaime Gonzalez of the Nature Conservancy in discussing how stormwater is managed in cities and new ways of harnessing natural solutions and community building to promote resilience.

The work was also featured in the December issue of Colorado Water, a publication of the Colorado Water Center at CSU.

STORMS (STream Outcomes Resulting from Management of Stormwater)

Stormwater management is a multi-billion dollar enterprise in the United  States that depends on human decisions at local to regional scales to achieve watershed scale environmental goals. We aim to determine how decision-making processes influence actions taken to manage stormwater and the subsequent environmental outcomes at the watershed scale. We compare the Cleveland and Denver metropolitan regions, which are characterized by distinct institutional and environmental conditions, in order to distill general lessons about stormwater management dynamics in urbanizing regions. Specifically, we will determine how individual and institutional decision-making processes influence stormwater management actions through analysis of policy documents and a survey of stormwater managers. We will quantify how stormwater management actions influence flow regime at watershed scales through a combination of field monitoring and modeling. We will evaluate how flow regime modifies the ecosystem health status of urban watersheds. Findings from these objectives will be integrated to predict  environmental outcomes from stormwater management strategies through a Bayesian network model linking decision-making to environmental outcomes.

This project is a collaboration between PIs Anne Jefferson and co-PIs Dave Costello, V. Kelly Turner, and Aditi Bhaskar and is funded by NSF-CBET-Environmental Sustainability.  More information about this project is on Anne’s page at: