08 Nov Nathaniel Parker
Nat is an environmental engineer, with experience in managing stream bank and gully erosion and monitoring and managing environmental rehabilitation programs. Nat also has conducted water quality research to monitor the effectiveness of erosion control measures and has advocated the advantages of using drone technologies for the collection of water quality data. Nat will discuss a project (undertaken by partners AirBorn Insight and Queensland Urban Utilities) that now sees monthly environmental samples collected by drones in urban and rural waterways.
Drones – A More Accurate, Safe And Cost-effective Approach To Water Sampling
The water quality of our creeks, rivers, estuaries and oceans is adversely impacted by suspended sediment, nutrients and contaminants that runoff from the landscape after rain events.
Regular monitoring of the water quality to assess the condition of our waterways is essential to measure how water quality is changing over time. Monitoring can also provide information on where ‘hot spots’ are located and if management actions to improve river heath are proving effective.
However, water sampling and monitoring of waterways involves traversing difficult terrain, and risks to personal from fauna and flora. Often water sampling occurs in areas that are practical to access for personal (near access roads, or the bank) rather than the most representative area (where the sample should be taken), reducing the reliability of the data collected.
Drone technologies offer powerful new tools for the collection of environmental water samples, particularly at sites that are hard to access. Many water quality sampling sites are suitable for drones and can save on field time, while making sample collection a lot safer.
The drone water collection system has proven to significantly improved efficiency of operations at many sites and has:
- Reduced or eliminated many site hazards for field staff
- Multiple redundancies built-in to ensure safe operations
- Increased efficiency at many sites, i.e. dams, rivers, estuaries and the ocean
- Repeatable operations at each site, with samples collected from the same location with accuracy of 1-2 m and an automated 360-degree photo of site conditions
In this presentation we discuss the steps required to setup a drone water sampling program (from design and federal licencing to field implementation). We also compare results from manually collected water samples to the drone water collected samples to validate the efficacy of water samples collected by drones.