To manage storm flows, especially downtown, the city needs more data to flow about just what is occuring under the ground during sustained flooding and heavy downpours.
That’s why City Engineer Giovanni Zinn was on hand on Thursday’s bright afternoon as Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Professor Gaboury Benoit descended into the darkness of the drain pipe at the corner of Elm and Orange streets.
Benoit was installing a Doppler flow meter that will measure rates and speeds of flow of water coursing through the city’s stormwater system.
Another one of the high-tech instruments — they’re designed to function in the midst of fast-flowing and dirty water — was installed below a drain on York Street, Zinn reported.
In addition to the two flow meters, ten ultrasonic level sensors are going into the underground pipe system at various other locations. The former obviously measures flow, while the latter the amount of water at a location at any given time.
The devices, along with the growing number of bioswales being installed citywide to help manage flooding through “green infrastructure,” are part of an overall approach to gather more info to manage flooding, especially downtown.
About 50 bioswales function now in New Haven. Two hundred more are on the drawing board — and the work paid for — from the city, with another 75 to be installed by the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA).
This is all part of a the city’s voluntary storm flood preparedness, which has won the Elm City recognition from Federal Emergency Managenct Agency.
Taken together, the measuring devices will “help us make better infrastructure decisions,” Zinn said.
It also appears to be a smart move during stringent economic times. In years gone by, Zinn said the city has had to rent the meters on a per week basis. “And for those who haven’t rented a flow meter, the price is $500 per meter per week.”
If it doesn’t rain, then the meter just sits there in the dark, measuring, well, the darkness, Zinn said. I must be paid for nevertheless.
The devices being installed Thursday and in the days ahead come to the city through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Long Island Sound Study (LISS), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.