What is CENTAUR?

The project aims to provide an innovative, cost effective, local autonomous sewer flow control system to reduce urban flood risk.  CENTAUR is an acronym of the full project title: Cost Effective Neural Technique to Alleviate Urban flood Risk.

Why is CENTAUR needed?

Flooded Rissington Road (1) cc-by-sa/2.0 - © David Luther Thomas - geograph.org.uk/p/505524Flash flood cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Malcolm Campbell - geograph.org.uk/p/657563Flash flood in Star Road cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Karen Blakeman - geograph.org.uk/p/1110858

One of the most widespread and significant impacts of climate change will be increased frequency and severity of urban flooding, which has the potential to impact the lives of thousands of citizens within the EU alone.

The resources of water utilities and local authorities are constrained by the current economic environment (less funding and staff) and also policies such as those to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. Traditional ‘resource intensive’ solutions to dealing with urban flooding (such as the construction of underground detention tanks) are becoming increasingly cost prohibitive in many scenarios. In addition, such ‘design-engineer-build’ solutions can only be designed to mitigate a specific defined level of risk.

Given significant uncertainties in future climate and the variable nature and density of urban environments this means such solutions may be significantly over or under designed over medium time scales (20-30 years).

How does CENTAUR work?

Schematic of CENTAUR system

CENTAUR will use data driven approaches to develop real time control strategies to activate existing in sewer storage at the local scale.  Sophisticated computational techniques will be combined with specially designed flow control devices to reduce flood risk.

CENTAUR will be an autonomous de-centralised system, acting without the need of a central control fed by a hydrodynamic model. Its self-learning capabilities mean that it is inherently adaptable and capable of adjusting to changing flow patterns over time, as can be caused by climate change, land use or population change.

Why is CENTAUR different?

Many previous RTC projects have been conducted, but most of them (e.g. Vienna, Dresden, Aarhus) are large scale systems based on entire drainage networks. These systems are characterised by complex sensor networks, linked to centralised control systems governed by calibrated hydrodynamic modelling tools and fed by radar rainfall technology. Such systems are expensive (i.e. several millions of euros) and complex to install and operate.

In contrast, the concept of CENTAUR is to be an inexpensive, de-centralised, autonomous (self-learning) RTC system. Being low cost, with minimal infrastructure build it can be installed gradually in systems to deal with localities of high flood risk and so allow water utilities and local authorities to take an adaptive approach to flood risk management in their areas.

What progress has been made on CENTAUR?

See the Outputs and Downloads page for publications, reports and other publicly available outputs as the project progresses.