Australian reservoir managers take up ARMS

A decision-support system developed at the Centre for Water Research (CWR) at the University of Western Australia provides an automated tool for managers of surface waters to monitor and forecast the quality and condition of resources. The researchers, José R Romero, Jörg Imberger, Jason P Antenucci, Chris Dallimore, Matt Hipsey, Sheree Feaver and Farhad Fozdar, explain the technology.

The Aquatic Realtime Management System (ARMS) is a decision-support system designed to aid managers and operators of surface water bodies including reservoirs, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal oceans. Its underlying aim is to provide an automated tool, requiring minimal maintenance, to monitor and forecast the conditions and quality of surface water resources, and to notify relevant personnel of current or abnormal conditions.

As an automated software package, ARMS can manage historical and real-time water resource data; it provides a user-friendly visualisation interface, posts information via the internet (or corporate intranet), provides real-time and forecast numerical modelling capabilities, computes decision-support indices to aid in operations management, and sends alerts via email on the status of water resources.

By helping to manage water supply, water quality, pollutant spills, flooding, and environmental flows, ARMS is a sophisticated tool for water authorities, hydropower operators, and environmental regulators. The system runs on a variety of computing platforms and SQL databases and provides the following functions:

  • Real-time data management with automated monitoring
  • Management of historical and current water resource databases
  • Real-time simulations of current conditions
  • Forecast simulations
  • Email alerts of monitoring failures, incidents and events
  • Web-posting of summary status reports, simulations and alerts
  • Quality control for data consistency
  • User-friendly visualisation of data and simulations.

ARMS’s capabilities include:

  • Assessment of intervention strategies for reservoir water quality such as destratification devices, withdrawal strategies and chemical dosing
  • Scenario analysis to reduce nutrient, suspended sediment, and pathogens and optimise placement of water supply intakes in reservoirs, lakes, and rivers
  • Carbon sequestration estimates in lakes and reservoirs
  • Real-time monitoring and forecasting, and rapid assessment of pollutant or toxic spills in surface waters
  • Increased government and public access to water resources information.


Live data from the Lake Diagnostic System (LDS) instrument can be telemetered into ARMS to provide real-time water body monitoring capabilities. The LDS, developed in collaboration with US technology company Precision Measurement Engineering provides information that is critical for accurate numerical modelling of water bodies. It consists of:

  • Meteorology station
  • Thermistor chain
  • Other water quality instruments
  • Solar-powered data logger
  • Various telemetry and mounting options
  • Deployment and training

The Controlled Lagrangian Drogue (CLD) will be available in 2007. It is an autonomous instrument that drifts within a water body under automatic control of vertical positioning.

It measures the movement of water masses, temperature, and other water quality parameters. ARMS sets the positioning of the CLD based on monitoring data and numerical model forecasting.

Data from other instruments can also be integrated into ARMS. Likewise, ARMS can be integrated with and complement existing SCADA and operations support systems (OSS).


A suite of five CWR numerical models is available for incorporation into ARMS, including:

  • ELCOM for transport and mixing in lakes and estuaries, and on coasts
  • DYRESM for the stratification and water balance of lakes
  • DYRIM for transport and mixing in rivers and on floodplains
  • CAEDYM for water quality that can be readily linked to ELCOM, DYRESM, and DYRIM
  • LASCAM for catchment discharge, sediments, and nutrients.

ARMS can also be configured to run other numerical models. The simulation module of ARMS can be configured to provide:

  • Automated real-time modelling to track the current conditions of surface water resources
  • Automated forecast modelling to aid in optimal operation during crisis events
  • Scenario task manager to define forecast simulations
  • Computation of decision indices to guide operational and strategic management of surface water resources.

The Centre for Water Research at the University of Western Australia has advised the World Bank and numerous water authorities on projects worldwide. The technology incorporated into this product has been developed over a number of years through scientific and applied research programmes, and is now packaged and available as an operations management support tool.

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