Telemetry system to ensure transparency in water distribution

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The government plans to install telemetry system at several places across the Indus Basin irrigation system to ensure transparent water distribution among the provinces.

A telemetry system measures the flow of water at various points in rivers and canals. The project is based on the state-of-the-art design of a real-time flow measurement system, and subsequently, its installation, testing, and commissioning at several locations/barrages of the Indus Basin irrigation system.

It will provide the flow monitoring data through the establishment of a main real-time data centre and regional data centres for key stakeholders to access and use the information.

Muhammad Kashif, Deputy Director of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), told WealthPK that the existing irrigation system of Pakistan is outdated.

“The old measurement method requires the officials of Irrigation Department to go to the location, take a reading with a gauge, and submit the reading to the office. This procedure carries the risk of errors and tampering with records, which creates differences among the officials of different provinces about the actual status of water distribution share,” Kashif said.

He said the telemetry system is replacing the centuries-old manual system for water flow measurement. “It will develop confidence amongst the provinces by transmitting real-time data automatically to the federal and provincial governments on their monitoring sites without human interference,” the official said.

The PCRWR has started this project with the collaboration of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Kashif said the PCRWR and IWMI have installed telemetry system on all the main canals of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, except for the Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC), with the support of USAID. Rating curves are developed for each canal in KP.

“Accordingly, real-time data are coming on the server and then communicated to the Irrigation Department through WhatsApp messages,” he said.

In Sindh province, the telemetry system is installed in two canals — Pat Feeder Canal and the Qaiser Canal. The water of these two canals also goes to Balochistan province in the Kharif season.

Kashif further informed that the water flow measurement readings are also exhibited on screens in the PCRWR, Indus River System Authority (IRSA), Ministry of Water Resources, and also in the offices of chief engineers of respective districts in which all the data is clearly visible. “In order to validate the accuracy of the telemetry system, data is cross-checked with acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP) device used for channel flow measurement, which ensures maximum accuracy,” he said.

The official said the existing water measurement system must be shifted totally from a manual system to an advanced technological system.

“Installation of telemetry system at different canals and barrages of the country will help reduce misunderstandings among provinces in terms of water distribution by providing accurate data measurement about water flow,” he added.

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