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Posted on April 22, 2019 at 5:16 PM by Ryan Hiniker
Drainage update 4/22/2019
Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:
We all at Blue Earth County try our best to keep up with technology and be as efficient as we can. Sometimes improved efficiency goes hand-in-hand with technology. I may have spoke about our use of drones in drainage and how we are also using them for engineering.
Blue Earth County now has a drone. The new drone is being primarily used by our Sheriff’s department. The Sheriff’s department has a staff of five registered pilots to fly and operate the drone.
Though it's still new, they have put it to use in many situations already, including recovery, assisting a fire department, drainage, and other situations. I’m sure they will find many uses for it going forward.
One of the main advantages for us in using it in drainage is the overhead vantage point. We can see so much more from the air that you would never see from the ground while driving in the ATV. The tiles that are submerged, the erosion issues, sloughs and other potential issues are all things that you would only capture from the air.
The second part of being able to use a drone is we don’t have to worry about muddy conditions or if there are crops in the field. I try to do many of my open ditch inspections in the spring and fall of the year. Many times, it is too wet or there are other issues why I might not be able to get an ATV out to inspect the ditch. The drone can fly in just about any weather, although preferably not severe or windy weather.
The technology of the cameras on the drones is incredible, including 30 times zoom, inferred thermal imaging, and spatial georeferencing. I plan on trying to use the thermal image camera to try to pick up tile lines.
Along with all the great technology of drone usage also comes in the efficiency factor. We flew an open ditch system that would have taken me the better part of a half a day to thoroughly drive. The drone flew it in just over one hour. The drone had better detail and a larger area of inspection than I could do driving on the ground.
I’m not making the statement that the drone will replace using the ATV and doing ground inspections. The drone can give great detail to where the problem areas are and the follow up with the ATV and ground-truthing can follow. Check out some of the photos we took from the drone.
The DJI drone all put together and ready for action.
Notice the submerged tile in the upper portion of the picture above. Amazing detail, even from 160 feet above the ground.
This photo was taken from around 660 feet away, just to give a quick idea of some of the zoom capability. It can and did zoom in even closer, at one point you could almost read the license plate on the truck from 660 feet away.
Recent Drainage Inspections – week of April 15 – April 19:
We are seeing a fairly large amount of tile repairs coming in this time of year. The unfortunate thing is we are still trying to work through our repair list from last year, 2018. Please report issues you see on our public drainage systems, whether it’s a tile system or an open ditch system. The repairs are usually fixed in the order they are received, so please don’t wait to let us know about issues you observe on public drainage systems, as the list grows daily.
We require that all repairs to a county drainage system (tile or open ditch) be authorized by one us in the drainage office, either Craig or myself, before any repairs are made.
Drainage Management Specialist