PUB using smart water technologies to improve water surveillance, save manpower costs

Unmanned autonomous vehicles have been tested at the Marina Reservoir (above) and may be used to monitor pollution.
Unmanned autonomous vehicles have been tested at the Marina Reservoir (above) and may be used to monitor pollution. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - An aerial unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) - drone- could, in the future, be used by national water agency PUB to monitor reservoirs.

A trial of the drone started in April this year at the Marina Reservoir and the PUB is now exploring if it can be used to help monitor pollution in the reservoirs or look out for cases of illegal fishing, for example.

Separately, discussions are ongoing with potential partners to develop a suitable drone for use in the deep tunnel sewerage system.

The drone was among five technologies unveiled at the Marina Barrage on Thursday (June 30) ahead of the Singapore International Water Week taking place from July 10-14.

Others include using a robotic swan to monitor water quality, automated meter reading systems to track water consumption, sensors and image analytics.

The technologies are at different stages of implementation, and will help improve water surveillance and save manpower costs, among other benefits.

For instance, using image analytics and CCTV cameras to monitor silty discharge at construction sites will help to save time and manpower needed to physically monitor the sites. In the event of any silty discharge, real-time alerts will then be sent out so that appropriate action can be taken.

Currently 250 construction sites island-wide are equipped with this technology. By 2017, 800 sites are expected to adopt this, amounting to about 100,000 man-hour savings per year for construction contractors.

Since 2002, PUB has worked on 467 research and development projects worth $323 million.

Its chief sustainability officer, Mr Tan Nguan Sen, said: "Constant innovation is at the core of ensuring the sustainability of Singapore's water supply for future generations, particularly as challenges of urbanisation and climate change become increasing complex."

These technologies will be showcased during Singapore International Water Week.