Real-Time Watershed Control

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

To reduce flooding and improve water quality, Professor Branko Kerkez and his team are using autonomous sensors and valves to create “smart” stormwater systems. In collaboration with social scientists, engineers, and local officials and residents, Kerkez is working to discover adaptive, real-time ways to reduce flooding forecasting, and improve water quality.

Water Theme
  • Principal Investigators

    Branko Kerkez, PhD, MS

  • Other Contributors

    School of Suitability UoM

    University of Tennessee

    University of Virginia

    City of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Huron River Watershed Council

Funding Sources

National Science Foundation

Great Lakes Protection Fund

Great Lakes Water Authority

About the Project

Leveraging recent advances in technologies surrounding the Internet of Things, “smart” water systems are poised to transform water resources management by enabling ubiquitous real-time sensing and control.

Recent applications have demonstrated the potential to improve flood forecasting, enhance rainwater harvesting, and prevent combined sewer overflows.


Kerkez has founded, an open source consortium dedicated to promoting education and uptake of smart water systems.


Working with social scientists, engineers, and local officials and residents from four communities, Kerkez is looking to bolster the ability to withstand and limit the damage from severe weather. Participating communities are Ann Arbor; South Bend, Indiana; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Knoxville, Tennessee. Currently, Ann Arbor is serving as an experimental "smart" watershed.


The stormwater system features between 10 and 20 sensors per square mile in its system, and testing is already underway. Sensors measure the quality of the water, as well as how much of it is flowing through the system at any given time, and other variables.


Project goals include answers to the following questions:

  •  How can real time controls in stormwater systems improve performance?
  •  What barriers are there in the public perception of "smart" stormwater systems, and how can we overcome them?
  •  How can technology be developed and implemented to allow large cities, such as Dallas and Houston, to control flooding and water quality in real time?

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