PureBlue Blog


StormSensor Scores! Raises $1.2M for High-Tech Monitoring System

January 22, 2019

Seattle startup StormSensor has raised $1.2 million from a handful of investors including Frontier Angels, E8 Angels, Next Wave Impact Fund, Keiretsu Forum Fund, 1320 Park Partners and other funders, according to GeekWire. The high-tech water innovation company, part of Aqualyst’s first cohort in 2016, sells wireless sensors and tracking software to various entities that use StormSensors to track and prevent stormwater pollution or flooding. 

The sensor is a fully digital solution that uses predictive algorithms that replace manual stormwater quality reporting. StormSensor has piloted the system at Jersey City, the Port of Seattle and in Kitsap County. For more information on the company, GeekWire’s article, including founder and CEO Erin Rothman’s GeekWire’s 42-second elevator pitch—the time it takes to ride the elevator to the top of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. 

Not only is the article informative, but any CEO or founder could take a page from Rothman’s spot-on pitch before GeekWire’s panel of judges, T.A. McCann of Pioneer Square Labs, Richard Tait of Starbucks and Heather Redman of Flying Fish Partners. Viewers of GeekWire’s Elevator Pitch have an opportunity to vote for the entrepreneurs they think did the best job of presenting their startup’s offering. To see StormSensor’s episode, go here and give Rothman a thumbs-up if you agree her pitch nailed it. Over the next few months, 27 entrepreneurs will compete in the “pitch-off,” but only one will make it to the top (GeekWire’s Space Needle pun, not ours).

Here are some of Erin Rothman’s reflections for PureBlue on the importance of stormwater and why she and cofounder Anya Stettler are so committed to accurate and immediate understanding of stormwater and are passionate about StormSensor’s role in helping gather that data.

Stormwater is Everywhere – and We Don’t Know Enough About It

By Erin Rothman
StormSensor CEO & Co-Founder

I've had a lot of conversations lately about whether stormwater really even matters. This makes me want to jump up and down and yell, "Look around you! It's everywhere!" All of our gutters direct stormwater. Our downspouts carry it. Catch basins capture it. Highways are tilted to redirect it. Roofs slant to carry it along, and gardens are planted to harvest it. Every city watches it flush their streets and flow into their lakes, rivers, streams, and bays. Which is why stormwater is the primary source of water pollution in urban areas. Most of us unwittingly contribute daily to stormwater pollution.

Stormwater continues to gather at ever greater volumes, and our aging stormwater infrastructure struggles to keep up with growing populations, rising sea levels, and the stronger storms that cause severe flooding and damage our communities.  

Cities attempt to evolve and effectively manage their stormwater, although a fundamental problem exists: we lack adequate means to prioritize capital expenditures and monitor the efficacy of deployed solutions. In a world increasingly reliant on analytics to support decision making and deployment of resources, incredibly, the same data are notably absent in the management of stormwater and wastewater.

Consequently, the biggest problem that stormwater and wastewater managers face today is a true understanding of how their systems really work. We lack the basic knowledge of how much water moves through systems under different conditions, which areas are particularly prone to flooding and vulnerable to sea and sewer incursion, as well as the sources of the egregious volume of pollutants entering our lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans—data crucial in making decisions regarding effective water management. 

To put this in perspective, Pierce County, Washington, identified more than 1,000 Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) incidents between 2012 and 2016—and every one of them was reported by a human looking down and seeing something (or, God forbid, smelling something) that was a bit off and calling it in.

StormSensor’s Terrapin™ network provides an affordable and practical solution to monitor how—and where—billions of gallons of water move on a daily basis through our belowground infrastructure. Our cost-effective sensors can be placed at strategic points throughout a system to detect temperature and flow under almost all conditions on a continuous basis, providing data on many of the critical questions facing managers today. 

Perhaps most importantly, the data accrued by these measures provide valuable insights for future construction and system modifications based on real-time feedback, allowing early identification of system failures and the initiation of corrective measures via an innovative approach, simply designed, to address an age-old problem.

In 2015, StormSensor embarked on a journey to create a world where we can look around and understand the quality of our water, immediately and without question. We envisioned a world where we can inexpensively generate data at a granular level for application across entire urban watersheds.

After two years of testing and retesting, we have just launched our first customer pilots in Kitsap County and Tukwila, and we’re deploying our network in Jersey City in March. We are incredibly excited to see our dream come true, and to work with customers as excited as we are to solve this very basic problem for a very precious resource.

Please contact us at erin@stormsensor.io if you would like additional information or if you would be interested in supporting a pilot of our Terrapin™ Network.


StormSensor is an alumnus of the first cohort of Aqualyst, a business and technology catalyst that provides customized services that spark and streamline high-impact water technology innovation. Aqualyst helps early to mid-stage water companies expand pilots, sales, licensing and/or an exit with less capital, time, energy and risk. Aqualyst provides a network of resources that serve as a living laboratory for innovative water solutions to be developed, piloted, and implemented in and around Puget Sound and North America.
For more information on Aqualyst, please contact Marielle Larson, Program Manager, Marielle@PureBlue.org.

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