Hays County has added new flood warning and precipitation monitors throughout the county that will give real-time warnings of rising waters in the Blanco River.
The monitoring system includes the status of 22 low-water crossings on an interactive map and 10 precipitation gauges located in most counties from San Marcos to Austin. When the water rises to a level considered to be hazardous it will trigger flashing lights on a radio system at the Hays County Office of Emergency Management.
Justin McInnis, the assistant emergency management coordinator for Hays County, said the county began to develop the water monitoring systems after the 2015 floods.
“Thanks to a grant from the Texas Water Development Board and the technical expertise of Water and Earth Technology, we now have a state-of-the-art warning system that will be an asset to public safety going forward,” McInnis said.
McInnis said authorities will also have access to the monitors, which will help in pre-planning rescue relief.
“The monitors will allow authorities to determine the height of water across the roads and behind dams and show potential damage to the roads, which will allow responding agencies to pre-plan rescue operations,” McInnis said.
These new monitoring systems will also help students and staff of Texas State University to be aware of potentially threatening floods. The monitors will benefit commuters traveling from surrounding areas in the event of a flood as well as residents who live near the Blanco and San Marcos rivers. During the 2015 floods, many homes and buildings were significantly damaged, including the Outdoor Recreation Center.
The floods cost the city of San Marcos an estimated $7 million, so these new monitoring systems can potentially reduce damage costs, as well as lower threats to human lives.
Monitors at five additional locations are expected to be added this year, according to a Hays County press release. The monitors will also include drought data.
Kharley Smith, the director of the Office of Emergency Management said they’ve had good feedback on the systems from residents.
“We’ve had great feedback and situational awareness, but there’s been no real flooding since they were put in,” Smith said.