S20 Design and Houston Community College Unveil Urban Flood Simulator

LYON’S, COLO (July 26, 2022) – Extreme flooding is the second deadliest of all weather-related hazards in the United States. In recent years, few places have experienced this more than the Gulf Coast from southern Texas to Florida, which has seen three 500-year floods since 2015, each more devastating than the last. To address this trend, Houston Community College (HCC) is working with S2O Design and Engineering, the nation’s leading river engineering firm specializing in pumped whitewater facilities, to create the Regional Response Operation Center (RROC) , the world’s most advanced urban flood simulator. dedicated to training firefighters, law enforcement and EMS responders on the technical skills needed to perform life-saving water rescues.

Located near HCC’s campus in northeast Houston, the $25 million, 75,000 square foot facility will include a large whitewater flume, 25-acre diving and motorboat pond and a flat water training pond, as well as an urban flood simulator to allow rescue personnel to train in flooded streets and buildings. Massive pumps will move a large volume of water through “streets and buildings”, simulating flooding in a controlled environment to keep attendees safe. It will have the capacity to train 3,000 to 4,000 first responders per year.

“We apply our skills more often to creating whitewater recreational facilities, but designing projects like this to train first responders is incredibly rewarding,” says Scott Shipley, founder of S2O Design and Engineering, based in Lyons, Colorado. “Regional emergency response teams will no longer be dependent on finding a stream or river with suitable conditions for this vital formation.”

The HCC project is unique as it will offer the potential for multiple training scenarios, including underwater vehicle training, boat and high rope rescue. The project’s “main street” will include a two-story apartment building, a sunken apartment building with a pitched roof, a high rope tower, and a two-story faux care facility with a flat roof that connects to the high round of ropes. It includes realistic streetscape conditions with features such as narrow street intersections, speed bumps, raised crosswalks, a rocky gorge area and a low drop dam simulating varying water levels for training high performance scenario-based.

“The Center is designed to facilitate a wide variety of training scenarios, from the most basic to the most advanced, allowing trainees to acquire and perfect their skills over time,” says Christine Clark, lead landscape architect and planner of S2O Design on the project. “It will host the latest Swiftwater Rescue training program, with built-in technology to easily adapt training scenarios in the future. With the push of a button, the water can be turned on and off, which is especially important for training on low-head dams.

S2O Design provides overall project design and construction supervision, providing highly specialized technical expertise in hydraulic engineering, site design and construction. The S2O Design team has designed and built some of the most advanced recirculating whitewater venues in the world, including the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC; Riversports Rapids in Oklahoma City; the Lee Valley Whitewater Center in London, home of the 2012 Olympic Games; and the upcoming Montgomery Whitewater project in Montgomery, AL.

The New York State Readiness Training Center in Oriskany, New York, operated by the New York State Division of Homeland Security, is the only other simulated training facility for urban flooding of the country.

Dallas-based Huitt-Zollars, Inc. is the project’s prime consultant and training building architect. The project is in the final design and value engineering phase. Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2023.

About S2O Design & Engineering

Known for “reinventing whitewater,” Lyon, Colorado-based S2O Design and Engineering specializes in innovative river engineering, restoration, and community-focused whitewater park design. Our team of expert boater-engineers have planned, designed and created some of the best in-stream whitewater parks as well as the largest and most dynamic recirculating whitewater parks in the world. S2O Design is led by Scott Shipley, three-time Olympian and three-time Kayaking World Cup Champion. For more information, visit S2ODesign.com.

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