Friends’ invention benefits developers, environment

NORTH SHELBY – Two childhood friends may be revolutionizing stormwater runoff management at construction sites.

Jon Rasmussen and Chris Wilder have formed a company, Flood-Con, and developed a patented automated flood control system that can save developers money and is more environmentally friendly than traditional structures.

A typical construction site features a detention pond. When the water rises with rainfall and reaches a certain level, water is released through a control structure.

However, the structure is designed for a specific flow rate, so larger storms can lead to downstream flooding and erosion.

Flood-Con monitors rainfall and automatically emulates pre-development runoff, bringing 21st Century technology to engineering that has not changed significantly since the 1970s, Rasmussen said.

“We’re bringing technology and disrupting a market that’s been static for years,” Rasmussen said.

Following successful beta testing at an Alabama Department of Transportation site, a Flood-Con device—nicknamed “The Beast”—was installed at a commercial site for the first time, off Valleydale Road on Friday, April 20.

Rasmussen and Wilder grew up across the street from each other in Vincent.

Rasmussen is a graduate of Coosa Valley High School, while Wilder attended Vincent High School. They both attended Auburn University, and were roommates for a time after college.

“We always joked that we knew each other before we knew each other,” Wilder said.

Rasmussen is a civil engineer, and Wilder went into a career in internet technology.

Rasmussen had an idea about an automated flood control system but needed someone who could develop the programming portion.

After several pitches, Wilder came to a better understanding about Rasmussen’s idea and was in a position to devote the necessary time and effort.

Flood-Con’s first break was ALDOT approving the system for beta testing at the site of new roadway construction in Pinson.

Flood-Con offers savings for developers by reducing the size of detention pond needed to manage stormwater runoff, Rasmussen said.

At the Valleydale Road site, where large office buildings are being developed by Foulad Properties, the 20,000-cubic-foot underground detention pond is half the size of what would be needed with a traditional structure.

The typical expense for construction of a detention pond is $8-$10 per cubic foot, so the Flood-Con system should save the developer tens of thousands of dollars even after purchasing Flood-Con’s services.

The price charged by Flood-Con varies as each set-up is site-specific. To learn more about the company’s services, visit Flood-Con.com.

Flood-Con also reduces the impact of runoff on the environment by mimicking pre-development hydrology.

Before development, about 20 percent of runoff in a given area makes its way into surrounding waterways, Wilder said. But after trees and shrubs have been cleared and replaced with non-porous concrete and structures, runoff is closer to 70 percent.

Stormwater runoff is a leading source of flooding and water pollution in urban areas.

The Flood-Con system manages outflow in a way more similar to natural topography as opposed to traditional systems that do not feature any sort of control over the amount of water released at any given time.

A series of gates are opened and closed to allow for a specific rate of discharge during and after a rain event.

Flood-Con includes a web app to provide real-time information such as rainfall amount, pond depth, water discharge rates and more.

The system is self-sustaining. Internet connectivity allows for monitoring of the system, but it will continue to operate independent of a connection.

A battery that powers the system is kept charged by a solar panel.

Flood-Con’s ALDOT site has not required any maintenance since its installation.

Rasmussen and Wilder hope more industry leaders will learn about Flood-Con, which they said can even be retro-fitted for existing detention ponds.