Department Urban Water Management

CENTAUR (Cost Effective Neural Technique to Alleviate Urban flood Risk)

Flooding in Coimbra, Portugal (Image courtesy of Diário de Coimbra)

This project aims to provide an innovative, cost effective, local autonomous sewer flow control system, CENTAUR (Cost Effective Neural Technique to Alleviate Urban flood Risk), so as to reduce urban flood risk and so with the requirements of the priority thematic area of flood management identified by the EIP on Water.
Increased urban flooding will be one of the most widespread and significant impacts of climate change. Increasingly frequent and severe urban flooding has the potential to severely impact the lives of thousands of EU citizens (EEA, 2012)1. In the EU water utilities and local authorities have finite resources to cope with enhanced urban flood risk. Resources 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 ‘resources 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).

To respond to risks of climate change in an effective way, there is a need to take different more innovative approaches which are both cost effective, technically reliable and scenario resilient (i.e. inherently adaptable to uncertainties and hence ‘future proof’). Such an approach is essential if responding to climate change effects on flood risk is to be affordable and practicable. However, such new, low cost, ‘adaptive’ approaches require innovative technology to support this change.

Schematic representation of a CENTAUR device

CENTAUR is such a technology. The CENTAUR project will develop a radically new market ready approach to Real Time Control (RTC) of sewer networks, with the aim of reducing local flood risk in urban areas. It aims to provide a system that can be installed quickly into existing drainage systems and uses smart ‘self-learning’ data driven approaches to activate existing in-system storage which is inaccessible with current technologies at a local scale. It aims to use these sophisticated computational techniques combined with specially designed flow control devices to locally balance flood risk, by optimising the use of existing available in-pipe capacity to attenuate and store water at times of high flood risk. The system will be fully autonomous without the need for central control. Each CENTAUR will run its own local sensor network, the sensors will not just be used for informing the local control but will collect data so that the system is self-learning.



Dr. Juan Pablo CarbajalPostdoctoral researcherTel. +41 58 765 6460Send Mail
Dr. Joao Paulo LeitaoSenior scientist (Group Leader)Tel. +41 58 765 6714Send Mail
Dr. Jörg RieckermannGroup LeaderTel. +41 58 765 5397Send Mail


Dr. Joao Paulo LeitaoSenior scientist (Group Leader)Tel. +41 58 765 6714Send Mail