Worcester Flood Watch: Community Science Project for Climate Resiliency

Street Flooding and Resilience Planning

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What Does this Map Show?

The City has been inventorying our stormwater drainage system to develop a Drainage and Green Infrastructure Master Plan. As we complete the inventory, we have begun to identify catch-basins/drains, manholes, inlets and outlets where stormwater enters or exits our drainage network that will likely overflow during intense (heavy rain over a short period of time) rain events causing street flooding. Each red dot on this map signifies a spot where the City expects to see flooding during such a rain event.

Worcester Street Covered in Water and Manhole Cover Popped Up from Rushing Water

NOTE: This analysis is being completed in four sections, covering the entire city (except for our combined sewer system). By late fall, all areas where we preformed analysis will be shown on the map. If you don't see any analysis in your area, check back soon!

Are We Accurate?

We need community volunteers to help us determine if our model is accurate! Whether you live, work or study in Worcester - you can help us by registering to join the Flood Watch below.


What will the Volunteers Do?

The volunteers gather data during and immediately following intense rain events and longer duration rain events in the 2023 (and potentially into the beginning of 2024) to map the flooded areas of the City. To participate:

  • Fill out the Participation Registration Form.
  • Activate geolocation on your phone.
  • Take pictures and/or videos during and/or after the storm, where you see street flooding and try to capture the full extent of it (where it begins and ends).
  • Upload via a link sent to you after you register.
    • Label data with date, time and location and attach to GPS location.
    • Capture and track any other field notes.
    • Upload the gathered data to our data portal.
  • Repeat for each severe storm causing flooding that you are available for!

To become a community scientist volunteer for the Flood Watch project volunteer, please review the project documents and video linked above (to learn how to gather flood data) and fill out the Participation Registration Form. We thank you!

Background: Drainage and Green Infrastructure Master Plan Development

The City is creating a Stormwater System and Green Infrastructure Master Plan which will help the City prioritize citywide drainage infrastructure improvements. The City of Worcester was awarded a 2022-2024 Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Plan (MVP) Action Grant to help develop it. The project's goals are:

  • To develop a comprehensive understanding of the municipal drainage system and its constraints.
  • To identify the City's most vulnerable areas using an infrastructure and social resilience framework.
  • To prioritize actions that advance flooding resiliency with a focus on a hybrid approach of nature-based solutions and grey infrastructure enhancements.
Diagram Showing Underground Stormwater and Sewer Pipe Systems
Weston & Sampson Consultants Working at Manhole in City Street

The City's project team - Department of Public Works & Parks and Department of Sustainability & Resilience - hired a consultant (Weston & Sampson) to:

  • Improve accuracy of the City's stormwater system GIS (mapped) data (drain manhole inspections).
  • Conduct modeling of the stormwater system during high intensity short duration and low intensity long duration rain events currently.
  • Use the model to predict flooding under projected 2070 flood conditions.
  • Identify flood prone areas and develop alternative analyses to address flooding considering grey and green infrastructure solutions.

Why Focus on Urban Flooding?

Climate Change is exacerbating flooding in Worcester due to more frequent and intense rainstorms and increase in total annual rainfall. The future flooding in the City will affect even more areas if we don't make changes to our stormwater system and how we build and manage our urban spaces.

Have a Question?

Contact Information

Sustainability & Resilience
City Hall Room 108
455 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608

Accessible via WRTA Bus Line. View Schedules

Phone: 508-799-8325
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Office Hours:
By Appointment: Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Phone: 311
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