Development of Low-Cost Automation and Internet Decision Support Technologies for Improving River Basin Operations
* How can we best use new low-cost computer, communication, and sensor technologies to improve water management and enhance environmental conditions in river basins in the Western United States?
Need and Benefit
With "Water 2025" Reclamation is seeking to anticipate future crises and work toward their early resolution. One future problem area that is of general concern throughout the Western United States is the overallocation of rivers. Modern technology has the potential to ameliorate this situation. But the technology (real-time monitoring and control) has to be adapted to needs of water user and river basin managers. This adaption is goal of this research project.
Several developments in recent years have made real-time monitoring and cost effective for even the smallest water user group. These developments include:
* Low-cost data loggers/controllers (e.g., Remote Terminal Units [RTUs])
* Growing variety of environmental monitoring sensors
* Innovations in communication equipment
* Expanding use of alternative energy systems
* Rapid advancements in the PC industry
* Phenomenal growth in the World Wide Web and Internet
The convergence of all these technologies has made low-cost automation a viable reality. But continuing research is required to integrate the components into user-friendly products.
One example of how these technologies are being applied is in Utah's San Rafael River Basin, a tributary of the Green-Colorado River system. The San Rafael Basin is being instrumented with low-cost monitoring and control equipment and a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system which uses the internet () and a Web browser as a delivery vehicle for real-time data display. The concept is that better and more timely information leads to better decisionmaking and enhanced water management. Automation and decision-support tools lead to further improvements
Any technologies developed for this applied research project will be transportable to other water projects and river basins in the Western United States.
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