2005 – Importance of Streamflow Monitoring for Sam Safety and Water Supply Security

Ian Cordery, Peter S. Cloke

Scientists advocate more hydrological monitoring but in most regions publicly funded monitoring is in
steady decline. The lack of measured data at dam sites means there are many designs for new dams and remedial work that are insufficiently supported by factual information. Unfortunately data –free modelling exercises will usually produce favourable results – favourable to the modeller’s purposes, but not necessarily favourable to the determination of physical reality or truth. In these days of the popularity of modelling it is common to find decisions being made based on model studies for which little or no local data were available for model calibration or verification. How can the ‘large dam’ fraternity encourage (ensure) more data use? Causes of lack of data are many. For example governments fund data collection but others need the data, and data collection is a long-term activity that produces few benefits in the short term. Some years ago it was shown that hydrological data collection and archiving provided benefits to the community of at least nine times the costs of the data.

The real costs of comprehensive data collection are not large but examples will be given of the huge
costs, mainly due to the need to allow for uncertainty, that result from unavailability of data. Those
who understand this problem need to explain it to their communities, politicians and CEOs in a clear,
unmistakably persuasive manner, and to demand an increase in data collection. If we do not, no one
else will.

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