WRD installs sensor network in waterbodies, rivers in Chennai basin for real-time flood forecasting

Field equipment, including automatic rain gauges and weather stations, water level recorders, and gate sensors, have been set up in nearly 253 locations in the city and its neighbouring districts

Published - June 10, 2024 08:56 pm IST - CHENNAI

The newly constructed sensor room at Chitlapakkam lake in the city.

The newly constructed sensor room at Chitlapakkam lake in the city. | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

In its efforts to monitor and mitigate urban flooding, the Water Resources Department (WRD) is strengthening its infrastructure with a network of sensors and rain gauges, covering various waterbodies and rivers across the Chennai basin.

It has started installing field equipment, including automatic rain gauges and weather stations, water level recorders, and gate sensors, in nearly 253 locations across waterbodies and waterways spread over 5,000 sq.km. The Chennai basin covers those waterways and waterbodies in the city, Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, and parts of Ranipet district, such as Sholinghur and Kaveripakkam.

WRD officials said the network would be part of a real-time data acquisition system and feed data for the Chennai Real Time Flood Forecasting System. The data collected from the equipment across the Chennai basin will be transmitted to a hydro-modelling control room to be set up in the Commissionerate of Revenue Administration and Disaster Management office in the city.

The control room will have a comprehensive and integrated real-time database of the waterbodies and rivers and will work as a decision support system to assess and mitigate urban floods.

For instance, real-time data on water level and flow in the catchment areas of the Kosasthalaiyar or the Adyar will help assess the time frame of flood runoff downstream, helping alert residents and farmers in advance. Water level sensors are being installed in waterbodies in areas such as Chitlapakkam and Retteri to get alerts about overflows and breaches.

Officials said the data dissemination and flood warning would be seamless and transparent as various government agencies would have access to the database. The ₹76.38-crore project, which is being implemented through the State Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre of the WRD, will also be integrated with the existing flood warning system in the city.

Besides installing sensors to measure water level in major rivers and tanks, work is on to set up 14 automatic weather stations and 86 automatic rain gauges. Soil moisture sensors will also be installed to detect surface runoff, in addition to various other weather parameters.

“We are also providing gate sensors in reservoirs’ shutters and check dams at Nandambakkam across the Adyar and Jamin Korattur across the Cooum. The device will monitor and control the operation of shutters during the monsoon and automate reservoir operations,” an official said.

A dedicated website is also being developed for the web-based application. The WRD looks to use some of the data collected through the project for urban flood management during this northeast monsoon.

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