Thanks to modern technology, Ward County has a new tool to use in the battle against flooding.
County Highway Engineer Dana Larsen told the Ward County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning that data was captured utilizing LiDAR (Laser Detection and Ranging), a system that uses pulses from an overhead laser to determine ground elevations.
A special plane conducted flyovers of the county in recent years, creating a highly accurate contour map of areas of the county.
This map shows an example of what data can be made available for flood forecasting by utilizing information that has been collected from a plane using a sophisticated imaging system.
Some 57 billion data points were collected, according to commissioner Bruce I. Christianson. By putting that data to work in the flood plain, the county could gain an edge, he said.
"It would be a safety factor," Christianson said. "It would be in the best interest of all the county."
Larsen explained briefly what assistance the data would be by utilizing the example of the Boy Scout bridge meter, located 3 1/2 miles west of Minot, which is one of the gauges the National Weather Service actually uses to monitor Souris River levels.
"What this basically would supply is a general representation of what at each gauge level, in one foot increments, what the inundated areas would be," Larsen said. He said that data would be invaluable when people wonder what a particular river level meant to them individually.
The information will be made available on the county Web site when design work is complete. By clicking on an icon that identifies a certain river elevation, the areas affected would be shown on a computerized map. The data isn't guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate as it is based on modeling, but critical infrastructure can also be better monitored using the tool, Larsen said.
The end goal, he said, is to eventually have a comprehensive county geographic information system (GIS) map available on the Internet where any point on the map could be clicked on and information such as elevation instantly accessed.
"This will just identify the flood area," Larsen said. "Later on, we'll be able to do the rest."
Other entities such as the county and state water boards are also likely sharing some of the costs with the county, Larsen said.
"This would just be supplying inundated areas based on a gauge reading," he said.