New 'smart' pond in Tampa can lower its water level before a storm, may help with flooding

We use technology to gather information on storms and let people know about it, but now there’s a new listener paying close attention to the chance of rain. It’s a pond, and it "listens" electronically.

"Using cloud forecasting data from the National Weather Service, it knows that a storm is coming," says Mark Thomasson of National Stormwater Trust, Inc., builder of the system.

The data automatically triggers valves that lower the water level in the pond.

"And it can release the whole pond that’s already been treated and prepare for a hurricane," says Patrick Blair, head of engineering for Port Tampa Bay.

The new smart pond is along 22nd Street near McKay Bay in Tampa.

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It reduces flooding and water pollution from runoff. The pond empties itself before the storm, so it can hold more when the rain comes and filter it before it goes into the bay.

"The time it sits in that pond, each day it gets cleaner and cleaner," says Thomasson.

The smart pond records everything on its dashboard, which is connected to the cloud.

"You can see where it opened the valve here," says Thomasson, referring to a mark on the screen. It’s the first smart pond built in cooperation with the Florida Department of Transportation.

Port Tampa Bay and the City of Tampa divided the $266,000 dollar cost of providing drainage around Cruise Terminal Three. Blair says the technology saved the port money.

Thomasson predicts costs will come down as the technology to make ponds "smarter’ gets cheaper.