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Memo on Effective Monitoring and Instrumentation of Dams

The following are extracts from a memorandum to the National Technical Committee on Water Resources (NTCWR) meeting.


Dams and reservoir structures represent important assets that sustain the modern world and are aimed at improving the well being and wealth of the society. The infrastructure of dams impacts positively the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but at the same time, water stored in dams can serve as a threat to lives and property if not properly monitored and used.

The objective of this memo is to emphasize the importance of instrumentation in Nigeria dams especially now that the dams are exceptionally full.

Purpose of Monitoring and Instrumentation

As a result of Nigeria’s early involvement in dam construction (since 1912 as a matter of fact) dam instrumentation is a means by which structural behaviour data are collected at dams and reservoirs to;

– provide early warning symptoms of instability for possible warning of potential hazards and

Status on Instrumentation

Visual inspection and various monitoring exercise carried out in the past and general survey has revealed that some Nigerian dams are not instrumented. While some are poorly instrumented, other dams do not have the instruments read out and interpreted to enable a history of the dam performance.

Also, monitoring instruments usually consist of a ‘sensor’ that measures the property of interest, a read-out/recorder unit to display the measured quantity and a transmitting system to transmit information.

These instruments may be operated mechanically, electrically or via pneumatic on hydraulic principles and to effect these operations, budgetary provisions are needed to support dam instrumentation in Nigeria.

The NTWR should therefore note that:

-a good dam monitoring and instrumentation is important to check potential dam safety hazards

-a number of dams in Nigeria are not instrumented and in many cases, non-existent and as such, budgetary provisions need to be made for this purpose and


-a comprehensive National survey and inventory of dam instrumentation and monitoring of Nigeria dams be carried out,

-the creation of public/community awareness through seminars/workshops on the importance of adequate dam instrumentation among dam owners and operators for wider and diverse participation in 2011

-the provision of adequate funding for the programme either through budgetary funds or special intervention sources.

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