August 13, 2020

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Leveraging wireless sensors to monitor Philippine water levels

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The Philippines is currently experiencing water scarcity, with certain areas of the metro going through scheduled water interruption on a daily basis.

A technology funded by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and the National Water Resources Boards (NWRB) may just be the key in averting a water crisis.

According to a recent press release, the Automated Real-time Monitoring System (ARMS) for Dams and Reservoir will provide real-time data on water levels as well as a decision-support tool for the daily management of the reservoirs.

Mapúa University developed the technology, which employs wireless sensors that provides the information to the NWRB.

This is the regulating agency responsible for all water resources development and management activities in the country.

The University was able to deploy the ARMS system in the cascading Ambuklao, Binga, and San Roque dams along the Agno River, through the cooperation of the dam administrator, the National Power Corporation.

What can ARMS do?

The cost-effective ARMS system provides a plethora of information such as real-time data on water level, rainfall, humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure, soil moisture, and wind speed.

These data are all of the hydrological parameters necessary for monitoring water availability and managing the reservoirs.

The Government is confident that this technology will help them mitigate the risks in watersheds, such as droughts and floods, because it provides real-time data on the current conditions of the dams.

Outsmarting water scarcity requires employing smart technologies. It also requires using real data to create science-based decisions and policies that will guarantee ample water supply.

Since ARMS is locally-developed, it is a cost-effective tool that the country’s local water companies can maximise.

Data that are coming from the deployed sensors are received at the office of the NWRB, which help in their decision-making, particularly in dam operations related to the utilisation of water.

Another use for the ARMS system data is for hydrologic simulations that can predict water availability among the monitored dams.

Dam operators can prepare for various climates and the effects that come with it with the help of the simulations.

Thus, the ARMS system has also designed a model that can accurately and visually reflect this information on water levels.

Moreover, these data can be used for hydraulic simulations that can alert operators on possible dam overflow.

It will, therefore, provide readiness for water discharge and evacuation in the area as needed.

Hopefully, the ARMS system can be deployed in all of the country’s dams to help government officials and dam operators in managing the water resource.

Partnership with the National Irrigation Administration will see the ARMS system installed and deployed in Magat and Pantabangan Dams and Reservoirs in the future.

Arms4Dams for data retrieval

In addition, the “Arms4Dams” web portal was developed for data storage and archiving.

Different levels of access are given to the public, the government agencies, and other relevant stakeholders for information viewing.

Since data is transmitted in real-time, data retrieval is also available at the portal wherein users can view information from past occurrences of rainfall.

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