Environmental Management

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 279–286 | Cite as

Status report on flood warning systems in the United States

  • Eve Gruntfest
  • Carole Huber


One of the major changes in flash-flood mitigation in the past decade is the number of communities that have implemented warning systems. The authors conducted a survey of 18 early-warning systems in the United States developed by communities or regions to provide protection against flash floods or dam failures. Problems revealed by the study included the following: equipment malfunctions, inadequate maintenance funding, inconsistent levels of protection and expenditure, inconsistent levels of expectations and formalization, varying levels of local commitment to the systems, underemphasis on response capability, and a tendency to over-rely on warning systems. The study also revealed some unanticipated benefits experienced by the survey communities: the warning systems serve as valuable data collection tools, a great deal of interagency cooperation has been demonstrated, and warning systems offer increased alternatives to structural modification projects. The interjurisdictional nature of drainage basins, the evolving roles of the various federal agencies involved in flood mitigation, and the lack of governmental standards of operations for flood warning systems are issues that must be considered as communities make decisions regarding the adoption of warning systems. The record on these systems is too short for a precise assessment of how successful they are; however, results of the study indicate that if the goal of reducing loss of life and property from flooding is to be achieved, warning systems must be only one part of a comprehensive flood loss reduction program.

Key words

Automated warning systems Flash flood Flood Flood detection systems Flood warning systems Warning systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eve Gruntfest
    • 1
  • Carole Huber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of Colorado, Colorado SpringsColorado SpringsUSA

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