Testing mobile app based data gathering in the Phetchaburi River Basin and possible applications

More Info


The Phetchaburi River in Phetchaburi province, Thailand, has a watershed with many different water resource projects. The surrounding farms rely on the Phetchaburi River for irrigation water and the drinking water companies rely on it as a source of water. However, the Phetchaburi basin has problems with yearly floods, salt intrusion and pollution. Water monitoring stations in the region are scarce. A new telemetering system has been put in place, but due to the cost of these stations they are few in number. This project presents a showcase for a cheap and robust water monitoring system in terms of both quantity through water level data and quality through various water quality parameters using apps on an android or iPhone device to gather and analyse the data. The app from Mobile Water Management (MWM) is used to measure the water level through reading a photo of a staff gauge. The Akvo app uses various methods like electronic devices and reading strips via a photo to measure several water quality parameters. It was proven that construction of the staff gauges needed for the MWM app is cheap and does not require highly skilled workers. The resulting data is reliable, if the app is handled by someone trained in handling the app, and/or the data that is created is checked by a trained person. The fact that the pictures taken by the app are uploaded to the database makes for easy verification of the data. This makes verification of telemetric data possible, which as it turns out is not always reliable when compared to the MWM data. The Akvo app has a similar advantage in the sense that verification of the data at a later moment is not only possible, but also easy. This eliminates several human errors in the data collection process and effectively increases the data quality. Right now, several RID officers are needed to collect this data. Using the Akvo app, the required manpower can be lowered. Data analysis shows that the Phetchaburi River has significant levels fecal contamination (E. coli) and issues with low oxygen concentrations at certain moments. For this reason, it is not recommended to use as recreational, fishing or irrigation water. The boundary between salt and freshwater is constantly changing depending on weather conditions and can cause serious problems for local farmers. When constructing the staff gauge there are multiple possible human errors that need to be avoided in order for the MWM app to work correctly. This mainly has to do with the placement of the staff gauge sticker, keeping it straight and unobstructed and also directed towards the user. It turned out that several of the Akvo strips are not working correctly. Other than that, taking data from many parameters can also be time consuming. We recommend that the RID looks into this method of data collection further, both as a cheap and easy way to expand their water monitoring network, and in the case of the MWM app to verify the effectiveness of the telemetering systems.