Last November, the Spanish Society of Dams and Reservoirs (SEPREM) organized the conference “The Role of Automatic Information Systems (SAI) in Water Resource Management and Emergency Situations due to Floods” at the College of Civil Engineers, Canals, and Ports.
The conference focused, in its first part, on the role of SAI in water resource management and in the field of flood emergencies and early warnings to the population.
In the second part, the need to integrate these measurement systems with meteorological prediction and information agencies (AEMET) and with forecast and damage management organizations (Civil Protection) was discussed.
The conference was coordinated by José Mª Gutiérrez from Atema Ingeniería, who introduced the representatives of the Water Basin Organizations, the General Water Directorate, AEMET, Civil Protection, and the National Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CNPIC).
In the first presentation, Francisco Barbancho López, Deputy Director-Chief of Operations of the Guadiana River Basin Authority, highlighted the lack of budget for the maintenance of the Guadiana SAI, which has decreased from 1.5 million euros annually to just 0.5 million euros, to monitor 221 points, including 45 reservoirs, 86 river gauges, 70 meteorological stations, and 10 piezometers. Barbancho López also expressed his dissatisfaction with the payments made between administrations, such as the high cost of the radio usage fee that the Basin Authority pays annually to the Ministry of Industry.
Next, Juan Carlos Caballero Aguilera, Head of the SAIH Service of the Segura River Basin Authority, described a similar situation regarding lack of budget for maintenance.
The rest of the presentations followed the same trend of budget constraints, except for some cases that do have funds for the maintenance of their Automatic Information Systems.
Carlos Ruiz del Portal, Head of the Hydrological Planning Office of the Miño-Sil River Basin Authority, presented the characteristics of their network, which consists of 112 SAIH points, 13 SAICA points, and 23 piezometers.
Urbano Sanz and Joaquín Niclós, responsible for the SAIs of the Duero and Júcar River Basin Authorities, respectively, also explained the composition of their systems.
Representatives from other River Basin Authorities also made their interventions.
- Ebro: Ángel Núñez, Head of the SAIH
- Guadalquivir: Francisco Javier Aycart Luengo, Head of the SAIH
- Catalan Water Agency: Juan José Villegas Ruiz, responsible for the control network unit
- Andalusian Hydrographic Confederation
- Tajo: José Antonio Hinojal, Head of the SAIH
The Ebro River Basin stood out for its extensive network of control points and the capacity to have an annual budget for maintenance, while the Tajo River Basin recently awarded a maintenance contract that guarantees active service until 2019.
Civil Protection emphasized the need to equip the national territory with both a general network like SAIH and AEMET, as well as a more localized network with radar and more cost-effective and agile flood control points, such as those installed by ARANTEC in the Aran Valley and the municipality of Agramunt.
Fernando Pastor Argüello, Head of the Hydrological Information Area of the General Water Directorate, responding to previous interventions, stressed the need for Automatic Information Systems and for harmonizing alert systems with Europe, both in terms of integration with Meteoalarm (which is currently more advanced in Sweden, Austria, and France) and with warning protocols (CAP – Common Alert Protocol).
One of the last interventions was given by María Roser Botey, Head of the Climatology Area of AEMET, who highlighted the need to exchange data between the 800 Meteorological Stations of the organization and the network of rain gauges managed by the River Basin Authorities in order to have more accurate weather forecast models with a wider range of forecast horizons.
Gregorio Pascual, Head of Natural Risks Area at Civil Protection, mentioned the implementation of the new Law on the National Civil Protection System “Ley del Sistema Nacional de Protección Civil“(17/2015 of July 9), highlighting Article 11, which provides a fund for emergency prevention, and Article 12, which establishes a National Alert Network similar to the one available in the European Union (EFAS – European Flood Awareness System).
Under this Law, Civil Protection emphasized the need to equip the national territory with both a general network like SAIH and AEMET, as well as a more localized network with radar and more cost-effective and agile flood control points, such as those installed by ARANTEC in the Aran Valley and the municipality of Agramunt.