DOST unit unveils new tech for real-time dam monitoring

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 Board (NWRB) may yet be the key in averting a water crisis.

Actual setup of the disdrometer (measures rainfall) and anemometer (measures wind speed)

The Automated Real-time Monitoring System (ARMS) for Dams and Reservoir, a technology developed by Mapua University, employs wireless sensors to provide the NWRB, the regulating agency for all water resources development and management activities in the country, access to real-time data on water levels and a decision support tool for the daily management of the reservoirs.

In cooperation with the National Power Corporation, the dam administrator, Mapua was able to deploy the ARMS system in the cascading Ambuklao, Binga, and San Roque dams along the Agno River.

The cost-effective ARMS system provide NWRB real-time data on water level, rainfall, humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure, soil moisture, and wind speed — all hydrological parameters necessary for monitoring water availability and managing the reservoirs.

This is the Sensor Node System that houses the main circuit box, GPS module, and battery level monitoring module. It collects information from the disdrometer, soil moisture sensor, and anemometer that are transmitted to web portal, ‘Arms4dams’

DOST-PCIEERD executive director Enrico C. Paringit is confident that the technology can help government in mitigating risks in watersheds like drought and floods as it provides real-time data on the conditions of the dams.

“We can outsmart water scarcity by employing smart technologies and using real data to create science-based decisions and policies to ensure ample water supply.  ARMS is locally developed, making it a cost-effective tool for our water companies,” he said.

ARMS project leader Francis Aldrine Uy said all of the data coming from the deployed sensors are received in real-time to the office of the NWRB.

“These data help the NWRB and dam operators in making smart decisions regarding dam operation specifically in the utilization of water,” he said.

Uy said that for data storage and archiving, the web portal “Arms4Dams” was also developed for information viewing at different access levels for the public, government agencies, and other relevant stakeholders.

“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,” he said.

Uy said data gathered from the ARMS system can also be used for hydrologic simulations that can predict water availability among the monitored dams.

“These simulations can also help dam operators prepare for various climates and the effects that come with it. For this purpose, the ARMS system has also designed a model that can accurately and visually reflect these information on water levels,” he said.

Screenshot of the dashboard of the ‘Arms4dams’ web portal for the real-time monitoring of the dams

Uy added that these data can be used for hydraulic simulations that can alert operators on possible dam overflow, therefore providing readiness for water discharge and evacuation in the area as needed.

He expressed hopes that ARMS can be deployed in all dams in the country to help government officials and dam operators in managing the water resource.

“Better water resource management is within ARMS reach with our system as we can have predictive analysis in the future and create science-based decisions on our water resource,” he said.

In the future, ARMS will also be installed and deployed in Magat and Pantabangan Dams and Reservoirs in partnership with the National Irrigation Administration.

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