Drones for Drains

New drone technology was used to resume work on the Stanhope primary drain, 20 years after it stalled due to a lack of funds.

Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) has invested in new drone technology which it claims is quickly becoming an integral tool in the design of irrigation drains across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID).

G-MW drain project manager Jarrod O’Brien said using drone technology for bulk excavation work like drains was a ‘no-brainer’.

“It doesn’t cost a lot of money once you’ve purchased the drones. You can create extremely accurate models, which you then put the designs through,” Mr O’Brien said.

He said using the drones was helping to bring down the cost of each drain.

“Previously we would have put two or three-man survey crews on the ground but using the drone we’ve been able to work out earthwork quantities.

“We know prior to starting the job where we need to remove material and replace it. The drone work takes three to four hours and a little bit of office work but it’s saved us thousands of dollars in labour.”

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s Carl Walters said it was pleasing construction on the Stanhope drain had resumed after all these years.

“It will allow flows to get through to where they would naturally go. They are currently blocked by channels, roads and farmers’ drains. It’s about removing the obstructions,” Mr Walters said.

He explained the GB CMA’s involvement in the project was anchored in its core business, which in this case, is protecting the environment from the impacts of irrigation.

“These include salinity, water quality, erosion and negative outcomes for native vegetation. It’s basically about using the water as efficiently as we can.”

The project was the result of a collaboration between GB CMA, Goulburn Murray Water and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.