Innovative monitoring of mountain streams

Relationship between man, mountain and technology

In the Alps, protection from mountain stream floods plays a particularly important role in managing natural hazards. Even in South Tyrol the control of water courses has a long-standing tradition: the oldest bank in South Tyrol, built along the Talvera stream in Bolzano, dates back to 1239. Since then, much has been done for the protection from mountain stream floods: in addition to modern flow control structures, professional and ongoing monitoring of mountain streams is currently an extremely important element in this connection.
For a long time, classic monitoring of mountain streams concerned measuring the water level and flow rate in order to take measures based on this data. In recent years, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of observing the solid material transported by the streams, among other things, also in order to better assess the effects of climate change on local water courses.


Good Practice: Aquased on rio Solda

Rio Solda, 21 kilometres long, is a tributary of the Adige river. The stream joins the second longest river in Italy below Prato allo Stelvio. Rio Solda collects waters from an area of 161 km2, and as a glacial stream, it transports a lot of solid material. The Aquased project was born in 2012 by initiative of the CISMA srl and Mountain-eering srl companies of the TIS Innovation Park in Bolzano, and involves the University of Trento and the Free University of Bolzano. One of the goals was to create a gauging station along Rio Solda. The peculiarity of this project: the station measures not only the water level and flow rate, but also sediment and liquid material transport flow.

The know-how behind the project
The goal of Aquased is to introduce innovative instruments to traditional hydrometry. At the centre of attention, in addition to the technical solution, there are also the effects of climate change on the solid material transported by mountain streams. The results can be used, among other things, for the creation of models for the measures to be taken.
The technology
For this project, a gauging station was installed along Rio Solda. The station measures the water level, the flow rate and sediment transport. To this purpose, special metal plates have been installed on the bed of the stream. Underneath each plate there is a geophone, a sensor that measures the plate’s vibration velocity. Here, the vibrations and the corresponding sound are analysed. In this way, the experts can estimate how much solid material is transported by the stream.

The experts in our network:

  • Mountain-eering
  • Free University of Bolzano
  • University of Trento
  • Autonomous Province of Bolzano - Civil Protection Agency - Provincial Functional Centre

The innoalptec project (FESR1060) is financed by the European Union and by the European regional development fund